Tokyo (AFP) – Japanese Peter Pan striker Kazuyoshi Miura is preparing for the next season despite turning 54 this week, but he is the only football golden oldies in his country. Far from that.
Kazuyoshi Miura is trying to extend his record as the oldest J-League 1st division starter when his club Yokohama FC starts the season on Saturday.
But he’s not the only veteran to look back on for years, and now there are nine players over the age of 40 on teams in three divisions of the league.
“I think Japanese culture has something to do with it,” Keiji Tamada, 40, a striker in V-Varen Nagasaki’s second division, told AFP.
“Of course I’m aiming to play in the match, but I feel I can make more contributions, so I think a lot of players are still on the team,” he says, sharing his knowledge and experience.
Miura, who is preparing for his 36th career season, became the oldest player in the world to score in a professional match in 2017 when he found the net at the age of 50 and 14 days.
He set his J-League record as the oldest starter last September. This is one of four league appearances he made in Yokohama last season.
“I was delighted to play football when the world was facing a difficult situation due to the new coronavirus,” he said after renewing his contract last month.
“It wasn’t a satisfying season for me personally, but my ambition and enthusiasm for football is growing.”
However, Miura, who started his professional career in 1986, is not the only veteran who is angry at the dying light of the J-League.
Former Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura is doing well at the age of 42, but former Japan national teams Junichi Inamoto, Yasuhito Endo and Teruyoshi Ito (now 46) are all 50 years old.
Miura’s 53-year-old former Japan strike partner Masashi Nakayama was registered as a player in the third division of Azul Claro Numazu until last month, but his recent J-League appearance was 45 in 2012.
– “True Pro” –
Midfielder Shinji Ono, who is now 41 years old and preparing for his 24th professional season, said the older generation “spurs each other.”
“I sometimes meet and chat,” Ono, who moved to Consadole Sapporo after participating in the second division 14 times last season, told AFP.
“But we never talk about when to retire because everyone can feel that they are enjoying football.”
Soccer players in their 40s are relatively rare in Europe, with Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Montpellier defender Hilton (both 43 years old) still active.
Calvin Jong-Apin, a Dutch defender who is a teammate of Miura in Yokohama, believes that the J-League’s less bruised nature “certainly helps” the player’s continuation.
However, he cannot find any flaws in the physical strength of the evergreen Miura at first glance.
“He’s very motivated and a true professional,” said John Appin, a 34-year-old relatively spring chicken.
“In training, there are hard sessions that have to be run and he is running at the forefront. He is the first man to do all the laps and everyone is behind him.”
John Appin says Miura has a personal trainer who “follows him everywhere” and even his own driver “don’t lose the energy to drive from home to the clubhouse.”
Ono, who played in the Netherlands, Germany and Australia, has given special consideration to his body and feels “well” for the new season.
“I’m not thinking about retirement — I’m not thinking about the future,” he said.
“If the club doesn’t want me, I have no team to play and I’ll have to quit. That day will come someday, but until then I’m enjoying football.”
As for Miura, John Appin believes that a natural disaster is needed to get the boots on.
“He told me he would die in the field,” John Appin said. “I believe in him. He doesn’t stop, so someone has to stop him.”
– Soccer Sports
Golden Oldies “King Kazu” Leads Japanese Soccer Veteran
https://worldsoccertalk.com/2021/02/22/golden-oldie-king-kazu-leads-japans-football-veterans/ Golden Oldies “King Kazu” Leads Japanese Soccer Veteran