Japan's Kazuyoshi Miura to play on at 54 after signing extension

Kazuyoshi Miura or King Kazu, as he is popularly known as, extended his contract with side Yokohama FC for a 17th season in the J-League and 36th as a professional footballer.

Kazuyoshi Miura led Verdy Kawasaki to the title in 1993 and 1994 before moving to Italy, where he spent a season in Serie A with Genoa.   -  AP

Kazuyoshi Miura, the oldest scorer in Japanese professional football, is set to play on at the age of 54 after extending his contract with Yokohama FC for another season, the club said on Monday.

Miura, dubbed ‘King Kazu’ in Japan, turns 54 on February 26, a day before the 2021 J.League campaign kicks off. It will be his 17th season with the club he joined in 2005.

The former Japan striker last scored against Thespakusatsu Gunma in 2017 in Japan’s second division, becoming the oldest player to score in a Japanese professional league game at 50 years and 14 days.

The 2021 season will be Miura’s 36th as a professional after starting his career with Santos in Brazil in 1986.

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The striker is one of the most revered sportsmen in Japan and was at the forefront of the country's football boom in the early 1990s when he was the poster boy of the newly launched league in 1993.

He led Verdy Kawasaki to the title in 1993 and 1994 before moving to Italy, where he spent a season in Serie A with Genoa. He has also had stints in Croatia and Australia as well as at other Japanese sides.

Miura won the Asian Cup with Japan in 1992 but missed out on representing his country on their debut appearance at the World Cup finals in France six years later. He scored 55 goals in 89 games for Japan.

The forward helped Yokohama secure promotion to Japan's top division at the end of the 2019 season but played only four times in the 2020 season.