World’s oldest footballer has been playing so long he once beat Lineker to award

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Kazuyoshi Miura has put pen to paper on a new one-year contract with Yokohama FC – just one month before he turns 54.

Miura, who is known as ‘King Kazu’ in his native Japan, has spent an astonishing 16 years with Yokohama and is currently the world’s oldest professional footballer.

The veteran striker started his career with Brazilian outfit Santos all the way back in 1986 and was even playing when Barcelona legend Lionel Messi was born.

He then enjoyed stints in Croatia and Australia before returning to Japan in 1990, three years before the launch of the J-League – the country’s top flight.

And incredibly, Miura was named the division’s most valuable player during its opening season, beating England icon Gary Lineker to the prize among others.

Lineker, now 60, ended his illustrious playing career with Nagoya Grampus Eight, scoring eight goals in 24 appearances for the J-League outfit before retiring from the game.

Almost 26 years since the Match Of The Day host brought the curtain down on his career in Japan, Miura is somehow still competing professionally despite only being six years his junior.

He has registered a total of 221 goals in 763 matches, while also scoring 55 goals in 89 appearances for Japan’s national side.

The experience frontman helped Yokohama gain promotion in 2019, but last season he was restricted to just four top-flight outings.

“Personally it was not a satisfactory season, but my ambition and enthusiasm towards football are increasing,” Miura said.

“I will work hard every day, aiming to contribute to the team’s victory this season by playing as many games as possible.”

The upcoming J-League campaign will mark his 36th season with Yokohama, where he remains captain.

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However, Miura admits his lengthy career is beginning to take its toll on his body.

“For sure, it takes me longer than the younger players to recover,” he told the BBC.

“But even though it’s very hard, I have this passion of wanting to play, so that keeps me going.”

  • Gary Lineker

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