• Soccer

‘King Kazu’ to Play in Portugal Just Shy of 56

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kazuyoshi Miura

TOKYO (AFP-Jiji) — Soccer star Kazuyoshi Miura extended his decades-long playing career on Wednesday less than a month before his 56th birthday, joining Portuguese second-division outfit Oliveirense on loan.

Miura, known as “King Kazu” in his homeland, made his debut in 1986 with Brazilian side Santos and has played 37 seasons as a professional.

His move to Portugal will see him play in a sixth country after stints in Brazil, Japan, Italy, Croatia and Australia. Last season he played for Japanese fourth-tier side Suzuka Point Getters — managed by his older brother Yasutoshi — on loan from J.League team Yokohama FC.

Yokohama’s parent company acquired a majority stake in Oliveirense in November.

“Even though this is a new place for me, I’ll work hard to show everyone the kind of play I’m known for,” he said in a statement released by Yokohama.

Miura scored two goals — one from the penalty spot and one header — in 18 appearances last season for Suzuka, which finished ninth in the standings.

He will line up at Oliveirense alongside Christian Kendji Wagatsuma Ferreira — a Brazilian of Japanese descent who was given the nickname “Kazu” as a youth player.

Miura turns 56 on Feb. 26 and has said he wants to keep playing until he is 60.

One of Asia’s best-known players in the 1990s, he helped put the game in Japan on the map when the professional J.League was launched in 1993.

He left Japan for Brazil in 1982 and signed a contract with Santos in 1986.