The veteran Japanese striker who has broken Sir Stanley’s record

Ben Mountain

Sir Stanley Matthews was a legend of the game. Very few others can boast to have an FA Cup Final named in their honour, after all. But, almost sadly, the thing that he’ll be best remembered for has now been broken. Enter; Kazu Miura. Football’s oldest ever professional.

Playing football, for many of us, can be quite the challenge physically. Whether it’s a groggy Sunday morning or a midweek game after one too many take-outs; actually being physically active for 90 minutes can often prove too great a task. It’s for that reason most of us watch the game with a pie and a pint in our hands, rather than a protein bar and a slim-fast. It’s the reason most of us gave up on football when we discovered drinking and sleeping for too long at whatever age we happened to find idleness acceptable.

Now take a look at your elders. Imagine playing football in their state. At least while you’re still young, you can parade the energy of something at least vaguely mobile. However, once the grey hairs and creaking backs begin to set in; you’re pretty much done for. Your energy levels, it would seem, are about that of an aged and exhausted sloth. Or big Sam Allardyce after training, for that matter.

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Not for the aforementioned Kazu Miura, though.

In a recent game for Yokohoma FC, Miura appeared for 54 minutes in a 1-1 draw with V-Varen Nagasaki as the world’s eldest playing professional footballer. The fella was 50 years and 7 days old. Sir Stanley Matthews’ record was surpassed by just two days.

Speaking on the event, Miura said:

“I don’t feel like I’ve gone past a legend. I may have surpassed him in longevity, but I won’t ever be able to match the career he had.”

Well you certainly won’t now, pal.

Anyway, reportedly propped up on an industrial sized pacemaker and 15 cans of Red Bull, Miura actually managed to play competitive football alongside men half his age for almost an hour. Most of us can seldom stand up for an hour without ending up a wheezing, bent-double wreck.

The man puts us all to shame.

Okay, admittedly, he was only playing in the Japanese J2 League, but it’s still quite the accomplishment. Having started his career at Santos – the same club as a certain Mr Pelé – in 1986, Miura has now played for 14 different clubs across the world.

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Despite having made over 230 appearances for his current Yokohoma, the Japanese forward is best know for his prolific spell with Verdy Kwasaki, where he scored 100 goals in 192 games. From here, he graced Europe with Genoa as well as Dynamo Zagreb and has since raked up an impressive 89 caps for his country; whilst netting a not too shabby 55 goals.

Dubbed ‘King Kazu’ and as being Japan’s first footballing superstar; the man has certainly worked hard to extend his longevity up to the Bruce Forsyth regions. And, boy, does he deserve the record.

Although we can’t help feeling a pang of disappointment for Sir Stanley.

Anyway, here’s to King Kazu making many more an appearance from here on. There’s life in the old dog yet.

Not sure what’s more surprising, the fact Kazu’s still playing, or that these players have a World Cup medal… 


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