Football legend Roberto Baggio announced his retirement in 2004, 15 years later there is a player born in the same year still competing with players half of his age in professional football.
Kazuyoshi Miura also known as Kazu is a professional football player from Japan. He was born on Feb 26, 1967, in Japan and currently he is the oldest football player to play in any professional match. He is 51 years old and shocked the worldwide media by extending his contract with Yokohama FC.
From his childhood, Miura was passionate about the sports and in 1982 his love for the sports took him to Brazil and he joined Clube Atlético Juventus. At the age of 19, he signed his first professional contract with the club Santos. He played four seasons in Brazil playing with Santos, Palmeiras, Matsubara, CRB, XV de Jaú and Coritiba before returning to Japan in 1990. In Japan, he joined the club Yomiuri Fc. In 1993 when Japanese professional league was started Yomiuri FC changed its name to Verdy Kawasaki and with Miura in the team, they didn’t lose a single
title. They won the Japanese Soccer league in 1991,1992 and J league in 1993 and 1994.
In the year 1993, he became the first Japanese to be awarded Asian player of the year and also the best J league Player.
His popularity was soaring and many international clubs had an eye on this Japanese Superstar and in 1994 Italian club Genoa signed him after a negotiation. He thus became the first Japanese player to play in Serie A and also the first Japanese to play in Brazil and Italy. His performance with Genoa was not up to the expectation and he was allowed to quit. He returned back to Japan where he was still revered as a star. He continued playing for his local team Kawasaki until 1998. He joined the club Kyoto Purple Sanga in 1999 and scored 21 goals in 41
appearances. He helped the Japanese National team to reach the world cup finals for the first time in 1998 where he scored 14 goals. He scored 55 goals to finish as the second highest scorer behind Kunishige Kamamoto who leads with 75 goals. After Kyoto Purple Sanga he moved to Vissel Kobe in 2001. He also played for Sydney FC in A league for a short period of time.
His popularity went to heights after he joined the Yokohama FC in 2005. He performed exceptionally well and became fan favourite for his Kazu Dance whenever he scored a goal.
When speculation were made about his retirement he continued extending his contract and kept playing for the Yokohama. In 2007 he was officially declared the oldest player to play in a professional match and there were times his fellow teammates were half of his age. He became the oldest person to score a goal too and he is the only active player since the starting of J league. He very well proves the proverb “age is just a number” and is a legend and inspiration for football fans all over the globe.