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Sports Kazuyoshi Miura: A professional footballer at 53 – how he does it

6 min read
Image copyright Getty Image caption Miura at the launch of the 2020 J League in February The second round of the Japanese League Cup is not normally international news. But when top-division side Yokohama FC played Sagan Tosu last month, it made headlines around the world. Why? Because the Yokohama captain, Kazuyoshi Miura, was 53…
Sports Kazuyoshi Miura: A professional footballer at 53 – how he does it


sports Miura at the launch of the 2020 J League in FebruaryImage copyright

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Miura at the beginning of the 2020 J League in February

The 2nd spherical of the Jap League Cup is no longer in total international news. Nonetheless when high-division aspect Yokohama FC conducted Sagan Tosu final month, it made headlines spherical the arena. Why?

Because of the Yokohama captain, Kazuyoshi Miura, used to be 53 years aged.

Miura’s unending occupation fascinates soccer followers spherical the arena. His contract extensions are reported by the BBC and CNN. He holds the Guinness file for “world’s oldest goalscorer”.

Even his inclusion within the FIFA 20 computer game – after first appearing in it 24 years within the past – made headlines.

So who is “King Kazu” and why does he preserve playing? What’s the secret to a soccer occupation that’s a minimal of 15 years longer than moderate?

The parable, he advised the BBC, began with the 1970 World Cup, Pele, and an 8mm camera.

Miura grew up in a soccer family in Shizuoka, the establish the game has prolonged been in model. His older brother Yasutoshi additionally grew to seriously change a decent, and their father used to be an avid fan.

“My father used to be in Mexico in 1970 to appear the World Cup,” Miura says, speaking by capacity of a translator. “He filmed the fits by 8mm video camera. In the period in-between, Pele used to be playing, and I grew up watching the video taken by my father.”

Miura used to be most attention-grabbing three in 1970, but the dwelling-made video, looping time and again, had a permanent impact.

“I grew to seriously change keen on Brazilian soccer,” he says. “From the time I was a shrimp bit boy, I wanted to are residing as a decent player.”

Miura’s father had links to Brazil and the newborn left college in Shizuoka aged 15 to transfer there.

“In the period in-between there used to be no J-League [the professional Japanese league that began in 1993],” Miura remembers. “So there used to be no manner of changing into a decent soccer player in Japan.”

He signed for Juventus, a decent personnel in Sao Paulo, but it no doubt used to be no longer an effortless birth. He lived in a dormitory with other early life players, aged 15 to 20, and spoke shrimp Portuguese.

“I couldn’t realize the language, and the customs had been quite a lot of, so naturally I felt lonely,” Miura says. “Primarily the principal three months used to be if truth be told onerous.”

Nonetheless he used to be resolute to pork up. He threw himself into coaching sessions. He discovered Portuguese. He made company. He needed to attain Brazil because, if truth be told, there used to be no Conception B. When asked whether there used to be yet one more occupation, had soccer no longer worked out, he pauses.

“I don’t possess any thought,” he says, sooner or later. “All I wanted used to be to be a soccer player. So right here is the toughest quiz to answer to.”

In 1986, three years after provocative to Brazil, Miura signed for Santos, the establish Pele – megastar of those 8mm movies – conducted most of his occupation. He stayed in Brazil, at deal of clubs, for extra than four years.

He returned to Japan in 1990, a bona fide celeb. In 1993, the J-League’s first season, Miura used to be named most treasured player – beating, among others, England’s Gary Lineker.

In 1994, he moved on loan to Genoa in Italy, changing into the first Jap player in Serie A. He wished surgery after his first game – he hit the serve of Italian myth Franco Baresi’s head – scored most attention-grabbing one purpose, and stayed most attention-grabbing one season. Nonetheless his spell in Italy most attention-grabbing increased his pickle serve dwelling.

“It’s onerous to overstate his importance,” says soccer journalist in Japan, Sean Carroll.

“He’s intrinsically tied up with the beginning and trend of decent soccer in Japan… he has done a god-like pickle, in some ways I bet equivalent to Maradona in Argentina,” Carroll says.

“There’s a total generation of decent players, presumably even two generations now, who cite him as their feature mannequin after they had been younger other folks.”

Nonetheless why is he composed playing?

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Miura’s transfer to Genoa used to be funded by sponsors – he conducted 21 times in Italy, scoring one purpose

In 2005 – aged 38 – Miura signed for his fresh club, Yokohama FC, within the Jap 2nd division. He grew to seriously change a key player, playing 39 times because the personnel won promotion to the tip division in 2006.

Even supposing they had been relegated after one season, Miura remained a standard for Yokohama within the 2nd tier properly into his 40s. In 2016, he conducted 20 times, scoring twice.

He used to be 49 years aged.

Miura infrequently will get injured (with the exception of when working into Franco Baresi) and is properly-known for his properly being regime. He speaks to the BBC after coaching, in a dressing costume, holding an ice pack to his leg.

“For certain, it takes me longer than the younger players to enhance,” he says. “Nonetheless regardless that it’s very onerous, I if truth be told possess this ardour of desirous to play, so as that keeps me going.”

And, to boot to his properly being, there’s yet one more trigger of Miura’s extremely-prolonged occupation – his recognition.

In 1998, correct earlier than Japan’s first World Cup, Miura used to be dropped from the squad, including a layer of sympathy to his celeb pickle. Nonetheless extra importantly, he is identified for merely being a pleasant individual.

The editor of J Soccer magazine, Alan Gibson, first met Miura in 1993, and went on to referee him deal of times in pleasant games when he conducted for Vissel Kobe within the early 2000s.

“He used to be a gentleman on the topic – I if truth be told enjoyed refereeing him,” says Gibson.

“Everyone loves him. Even supposing he’s ‘the King’, he didn’t develop the World Cup. And, as he conducted for Yokohama for so prolonged, he hasn’t lately won a championship with a personnel everyone hates.”

That recognition makes extra other folks look Yokohama games – “In the occasion that they know he’s playing, an extra 3,000 or 4,000 other folks flip up,” says Gibson – and encourages deal of sponsors.

That links to a final trigger of Miura’s longevity: the respectful – or presumably sentimental – dawdle than runs by Jap society.

One coach, while praising Miura, tells the BBC that “King Kazu” has seriously change a “panda own” at Yokohama – that’s, a rare, grand-loved curiosity, other than a serious player. Irrespective of playing twice within the League Cup, he has no longer conducted within the league this season, and most attention-grabbing conducted three times final year.

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Miura playing for Japan in opposition to the UAE within the 1992 Asian Cup, a match Japan won

Sean Carroll says Miura’s trip is important within the Yokohama dressing room, but is of the same opinion that his extremely-prolonged occupation says one thing about Jap society extra extensively.

“Hierarchy is extremely significant in Japan anyway, but whenever you’ve contributed as grand as Kazu, he fairly grand has a contract as prolonged as he needs one,” he says.

“The premise of him ‘working onerous’ and ‘performing as an inspiration’ is oft-repeated by followers and the media – gratifying a extra or less ‘the rest-is-imaginable’ fairy myth. Which again, displays Jap culture at large.”

Even that, although, doesn’t somewhat indicate Miura’s longevity. In spite of every little thing, it’s no longer the supporters, or the sponsors, who push by the problem barrier, day in, day out, aged 53.

Miura is in total asked what the “secret” is to his occupation. He insists there is no longer this form of thing as a secret – other than onerous work and dedication. Nonetheless presumably the key is within the market within the acknowledge to the final quiz.

Does 53-year-aged Kazu, coaching each day in Yokohama, revel in kicking a ball as grand because the 15-year-aged boy who flew to Brazil with about a words of Portuguese and head paunchy of targets?

“Yes, I composed revel in playing soccer – every moment,” he says. “In fact, I revel in it grand extra than after I was in Brazil.”

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