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Japan striker Miura signs to play into his 50s


Tokyo (AFP) – Former Japan striker Kazuyoshi Miura, who turns 50 next month, has renewed his contract with Yokohama FC, stretching his record as the oldest Japanese to play professional football.

The forward, dubbed “King Kazu” by Japanese media and fans, will take his career into a remarkable 32nd season after agreeing a one-year deal, the J-League second-tier club said.

“I was able to renew my contract for the 2017 season,” Miura said in a statement. “I am determined to continue fighting with all of my strength together with people who have supported me — club staff, team mates, and fans.”

The former Genoa and Dinamo Zagreb player, who will turn 50 on February 26, attracts immense public admiration and broke his own mark as the J-league’s oldest goalscorer after netting at the age of 49 in June last year.

Miura’s lengthy career began with a move to Brazil at age 15 before he made his name in the early 1990s when he was Asia’s best-known footballer, helping to build Japan’s football culture after the professional J-League was launched in 1993.

He blazed a trail for Japanese players when he joined Italy’s Genoa in 1994 and, despite scoring 55 goals in 89 appearances for Japan, was famously axed from the Japan squad before the country’s first World Cup appearance in 1998, sparking a national debate.

Miura finally got his dream to play for Japan in a World Cup at 45 — albeit in the futsal version in Thailand.

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