This is the eighth in a series on influential figures in the Heisei Era, which began in 1989 and will end when Emperor Akihito abdicates in April. In Heisei, Japan was roiled by economic excess and stagnation, as well as a struggle for political and social reform. This series explores those who left their imprint along the way.

It could be said that no team sport in Japan has outpaced soccer's growth through the Heisei Era, and 52-year-old Kazuyoshi Miura is the only player who can claim to have been a part of that growth throughout.

Japanese soccer's history began in 1873 during the Meiji Era. The national high school tournament began in 1917, while the Emperor's Cup, Japan's equivalent of England's FA Cup, was first held in 1921.