Kazuyoshi Miura is getting ready for another season notwithstanding turning 54 in two days. However, he is not Japan’s only golden oldie.
The former Japan international
is planning to extend the record he set as J-League’s oldest first-division starter when his sideYokohama FC
start their new campaign on Saturday.
There are nine other players aged over 40, who will feature across all three divisions this season.
I think Japanese culture might have something to do with it
, a striker with division V-Varen Nagasaki, told AFP.
Of course the aim is to play in matches, but I think a lot of players stay with their teams because they feel they can make a contribution beyond that
," he said.
Miura, who will have his 36th campaign this season, has the record of the oldest player to have met the target in a professional game in 2017 with the age of 50 years and 14 days.
I was feeling the joy of playing football at a time when the world was facing a tough situation because of the new coronavirus,
" he said after renewing his deal in January.
Personally, it was not a satisfactory season, but my ambition and enthusiasm for football are increasing
Miura started his professional career as a footballer in 1986 and other players, who are playing into the fifth decade of their life, are 42-year-old Shunsuke Nakamura and 46-year-old Junichi Inamoto, Yasuhito Endo, and Teruyoshi Ito. Masashi Nakayama is 53 years old and is going to play for Japan’s third division club Azul Claro Numazu.
will go on his 24th season, saying “the older generation spur each other on.”
Sometimes we meet up and have a chat,
" Ono said.
But we never talk about when we're going to retire, because you can feel that everyone is enjoying playing football.
Across Europe, however, golden oldies are rare, with Gianluigi Buffon and Montpellier’s Hilton still playing at the age of 43.
According to Calvin Jong-a-pin, football in Japan is less brutal which “definitely helps”.
Miura's highly motivated and just a true professional
In training, we have hard sessions where we have to run, and he's running at the front. He's the first guy doing all the laps, and everyone is behind him.
“Miura has a personal trainer who follows him everywhere, and even has his own driver, so he doesn't lose energy driving from his home to the clubhouse."
Ono also pays attention to his body and says:
"I don't think about retiring -- I don't think about the future.
"If no club wants me, I won't have a team to play for, and I'll have no choice but to quit. That day will come at some point, but until then, I'll enjoy playing football."
Jong-a-pin believes only an act of God will let Miura call it quits.
He told me he would die on the field
," Jong-a-Pin said.
"I believe him. Somebody has to make him stop, because he will not stop
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