Meet Kazuyoshi Miura. He is almost 55 years old. Most people in an everyday job would be looking towards retirement by that age, and almost every footballer will long since have hung up their boots. But even now, Miura continues to tick along as the oldest professional footballer the world has ever seen.
He may have been born two full years before the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 and begun his professional football career in the same year as the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, but Japanese legend Miura is set to play on for at least another year after finding himself a new club.
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The 54-year-old has left Yokohama FC following their relegation to the J2 League in order to join the magnificently named Suzuki Point Getters on loan, who just so happen to be coached by his older brother, 56-year-old Yasutoshi Miura.
The younger Miura has spent the past 16 years of his career playing for Yokohama, celebrating both his 40th and 50th birthday with the club.
Relegated from the J1 League after finishing bottom of the table in 2021, Yokohama were keen to keep “King Kazu” on board for another year as they prepare for life in the second tier.
However, after mustering just one minute of first-team action in the league last season, the venerated striker would prefer to drop down a further two divisions in order to join his brother’s team, who play in the Japan Football League (fourth tier).
🏁👑 Next Stop for King Kazu: Suzukahttps://t.co/Kj5xgZonYW
— J.LEAGUE Official EN (@J_League_En) January 12, 2022
He may not have featured much last year, but Miura did at least officially extend his own record as the J1 League’s oldest-ever player, having taken to the pitch aged 54 years and 12 days when he made his only appearance of the campaign against Urawa Reds in March.
Amazingly enough, Miura was only a mere 11 years older than the next most senior player in Yokohama’s squad, with 43-year-old Shunsuke Nakamura (once of Celtic) ably serving as his junior.
Of course, there are myriad examples of superannuated footballers who simply refused to quit playing the game they love and instead kept on plugging away into the 40s, 50s, 60s and — in some exceptionally rare cases — beyond.
With the rigours on their body comparatively lesser, goalkeepers tend to fare better when it comes to extended careers but there are several exceptional instances of outfield players carrying on well into their footballing dotage.
Teddy Sheringham is the oldest outfield player ever to appear in the Premier League when, aged 40 years and 272 days, the former England striker turned out for West Ham United against Manchester City in December 2006.
This came just four days after Sheringham became the Premier League’s oldest-ever goal scorer when he notched a consolation goal for the Hammers in a 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth, aged 40 years and 268 days — a record that still stands to this day.
There are six outfielders who feature in the Top 10 of oldest footballers to have appeared in a competitive professional division, with Sheringham actually being the youngest.
Rivaldo is next on the list, having also eked out the meandering latter stages of his career into his mid-40s. Indeed, the former Barcelona midfielder clocked up the final competitive appearance of his career for Brazilian club Mogi Mirim at the age of 43 years and 117 days.
Fellow countryman Ze Roberto played his last pro game for Palmeiras in 2017, aged 43 years and 173 days having earlier represented Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Next up is Bosnian striker Aleksandar Duric, who spent so long playing in Singapore that he eventually qualified to play for them at international level. The striker spent the final four years of his career playing for Tampines Rovers, making his final appearance aged 44 years and 85 days.
When it comes to the oldest outfield players on record, Sir Stanley Matthews is in second place having played on past his half-century. Indeed, the wing wizard played his final competitive league game for Stoke City, bowing out with in a 3-1 victory over Fulham just five days after celebrating his 50th birthday.
Matthews’ record stood for 56 years until Kazuyoshi Miura claimed it and then repeatedly broke it with every subsequent appearance he made, and continues to make as he approaches his 55th birthday.
However, at the tender age of 54, King Kazu is a humble spring chicken in comparison to the owner of the official Guinness World Record for the oldest appearance in a professional, organised soccer match.
This 74-year-old Egyptian grandfather became the world’s oldest footballer 🇪🇬⚽️💪
Ezzeldin Bahader has been honoured by the Guinness World Records (@GWR) as the oldest professional soccer player. https://t.co/rhp57EVx35
— Gehad Kenawy (@GehadSoliman1) October 24, 2020
That esteemed honour belongs to Ezzeldin Bahader, who was 74 years and 125 days when he turned out for 6th of October FC (that’s the name of the team) against El Ayat Sports in the Egyptian third tier in October 2020. He took the record previously held by 73-year-old Israeli Isaak Hayik
Bahader initially made his debut the previous March, even scoring a penalty in a game against Genius, but was forced to wait for his second appearance after the coronavirus pandemic saw all sporting activity in Egypt suspended on safety grounds.