Childhood & Early Life
Kazuyoshi Miura was born on February 26, 1967, in the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan. He was a football enthusiast since his childhood years. However, the pathetic condition of Japanese football had him keep his dreams to himself.
He continued playing as he entered his teenage years. He decided to move to Brazil when he came to know about better youth programs in the country. In 1982, at the age of 15, while in the ‘Shizuoka Gakuen School,’ he decided to leave behind his life in Japan and move to Brazil to become a professional footballer.
The early few years of his life in Brazil were not easy for him, but he refused to give up. He was finally accepted into ‘Clube Atlético Juventus’ and became a part of their youth program. He trained very hard with them and proved his mettle for the next four years while he kept looking for better opportunities.
His efforts paid off when he was finally offered a professional contract by the club ‘Santos’ in 1986.
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Kazuyoshi played for ‘Santos’ as a forward and emerged as one of their key squad members. He later went on to join several other Brazilian clubs, such as ‘Coritiba’ and ‘Palmeiras.’ In 1990, he finally decided to move back to Japan to be a part of the growing craze about the game.
‘J. League’ was taking shape in the early 1990s, and he joined ‘Yomiuri FC,’ one of the major teams of the ‘Japan Soccer League’. After the official launch of ‘J. League’ in 1993, ‘Yomiuri FC’ became known as ‘Verdy Kawasaki,’ and Kazuyoshi decided to continue with it.
After Miura joined the team, they never lost a single league title for the first few years. They won the ‘Japan Soccer League’ in 1991 and 1992 and the ‘J. League’ titles in 1993 and 1994. In 1993, he was named the ‘Asian Footballer of the Year.’ The same year saw him being awarded with ‘J. League’s Most Valuable Player.’
Miura was growing to become the first-ever Japanese football superstar. Needless to say, a number of international clubs kept an eye on the Japanese domestic leagues to locate hidden talents. The Italian club ‘Genoa’ hired him after a negotiation in 1994. He thus became the first-ever Japanese footballer to play in the ‘Serie A,’ which was the richest football series in the world at that time.
However, he managed to give a performance that was below expectations. He struggled with speed and physicality while playing with the best players in the world. There were talks about sending him to the relatively inferior ‘Serie B,’ but his hardcore Japanese fans protested against the decision.
All the while, the media dubbed Miura as a “silent gentleman,” as he remained silent during the entire ordeal. He refused to give up and kept practicing to dominate the European football scene. However, in 1995, he moved back to Japan. Although he scored in some crucial matches, his overall performance was not accepted by the club, and he was allowed to quit.
During his last season at ‘Genoa,’ he had changed three managers and that fetched him quite a lot of coverage in sports media. His miserable experience ended when he moved back to Japan, where he was still revered as a superstar. He performed amazingly for his local team ‘Kawasaki.’ However, his brief spell with the European club ‘Dinamo Zagreb’ was another failure. He played for ‘Kawasaki’ until 1998 and joined ‘Kyoto Purple Sanga’ in 1999. He scored 21 goals in his 41 games for ‘Kyoto.’
After playing two seasons with ‘Kyoto Purple Sanga,’ he moved on to ‘Vissel Kobe’ in 2001 and scored 24 goals in his 103 appearances for the club. In late 2005, he was loaned to ‘Sydney FC’ for the ‘A-League’ for a brief period of time. During his Australian stint, he appeared in four league matches and scored two goals. The same year, he joined ‘Yokohama FC.’
In 2005, he also represented his team in the ‘FIFA World Club Championship’ and scored two goals against ‘Adelaide United.’ However, he could not steal a victory.
After joining ‘Yokohama,’ his popularity soared. As he reached his late 30s, there were speculations about the next season being his last. He became the fan favorite for performing the “Kazu dance” every time he scored a goal. He played for ‘J-East’ in the 2007 ‘JOMO All-Stars’ match and performed exceptionally well.
Despite his growing popularity, owing to him mostly being the oldest player on the field, at times even double the age of his teammates, he kept denying all reports of retirement. In November 2015, at the age of 48, he signed another contract for a year with ‘Yokohama’ and further extended it in 2016 and 2017, which stretched his football career to his 50s.
In a March 2017 game, he officially became the oldest professional player to play in a professional match. The previous record was held by Stanley Matthews. A few days later, Miura became the oldest goal-scorer in the history of professional football. Among very strong speculations of retirement, he signed another contract with ‘Yokohama FC’ in January 2018.
As a key part of the Japanese national football team, Miura has played in the 1998 ‘FIFA World Cup’ qualifiers, where he scored 14 goals. With the record of scoring 55 goals in 89 matches, he is the second-highest goal-scorer for the Japanese national team. He has not played a match for his national team since 2000.