YOKOHAMA - Kazuyoshi Miura rewrote history as he headed in his first goal of the season at the age of 49 on Sunday, improving his own record of the oldest scorer in the J. League during Yokohama FC’s 2-1 defeat at home to FC Gifu in the second division.
The former Japan striker, in the eighth game of his 31st pro season, expertly steered Kosuke Onose’s cross from the right to the far right-hand corner in the 22nd minute and celebrated with his teammate with a trademark “Kazu dance.”
Leo Mineiro leveled for Gifu five minutes after the break before Miura came off in the 59th minute, and the Brazilian scored the winner six minutes later as he rounded the goalkeeper and rolled home for the side managed by Miura’s former club and international teammate, Ruy Ramos.
“I’m genuinely happy. Things felt nice during training and I was sensing I could get one,” said Miura. “(The defeat) is the disappointing part. I need to be scoring more to be honest.”
Miura, who scored three goals in 16 appearances last season, reached this latest milestone at the age of 49 years, 3 months and 24 days. The record for the oldest goalscorer in J1 belongs to Zico, the Brazilian who later managed Japan, scored at the age of 41 years, 3 months, 12 days for Kashima Antlers.
Miura also had a word for the Miami Marlins’ Ichiro Suzuki, a 42-year-old who has been his friend for more than 20 years and last week had the 4,257th hit of his pro career in Japan and the United States, surpassing the highest major league total of 4,256.
“He taught me how important it is to keep at it building one thing on top of another,” Miura said. “J2 might be a small stage, but the important thing is (to have) the strong belief.”
Miura traveled to Brazil as a 15-year-old in 1982 before becoming a professional, playing for several clubs including powerhouse Santos.
He returned to Japan in 1990 and joined Yomiuri FC, which later became Verdy Kawasaki and then Tokyo Verdy. The club was a dominant force in the J. League’s inaugural 1993 season. Miura had a loan spell with Genoa in the Italian Serie A in the 1994-95 season and another stint with Dinamo Zagreb in 1999.
Miura returned home to play for Kyoto Sanga and Vissel Kobe before joining Yokohama FC in 2005, and appeared in the Club World Championship (now the Club World Cup) that year with Sydney FC, joining on a short-term loan deal.
Miura netted 55 times in 89 games for Japan but hasn’t appeared in the World Cup. He scored the opener against Iraq in the final qualifier for the 1994 tournament in the United States, but Japan conceded a last-minute equalizer in Doha to miss out on a spot.
Miura was dropped from the final squad for France 1998, where debutant Japan lost all three games in the group stage.