Most players are in their prime in their mid-to-late 20s and as they hit their early 30s they start slowing down and retirement is on the horizon. But, right now, as this is being written(May/2020), there is a player at the age of 53 years old playing in the J2-league in Japan and that is Japanese King, Kazuyoshi Miura or Kazu for short.
In 1982 at the age of just 15 he travelled to Brazil on his own to set out to become a professional footballer. At the age of 19 that dream came true and he signed for the same club that the great Pele started at, Santos. He played professionally for the next 4 years signing for different Brazilian clubs, including Palmeiras, before he made his return to Japan in 1990.
Kazu returned as a bit of a hero as no Japanese players had played abroad. Kazu was also at that time unique because of his style. He was a skillful forward, something he learned from playing in Brazil, and with these skills and his ability of being a consistent goal scorer he dazzled the Japanese crowds donning the shirt of Verdy Kawasaki – now known as Tokyo Verdy – and winning 12 honours over the next 8 years.
Kazu attracted attention from Italy and while still contracted to Tokyo Verdy he went to Genoa on loan for the 1994-1995 season. He was the first Japanese player to play in Italy attracting audiences to watch Genoa and spark an in interest Serie A in Japan. That season he only bagged one goal, but a goal that came against local rivals Sampdoria. Another attempt came to play in Europe after leaving Toyko Verdy in 1998 and signing for Dinamo Zagreb. Unfortunately, no goals from just 12 appearances was enough for him to return back to Japan’s J-1 League.
While Europe proved to be a much harder place to show off his skills. Kaza did shine on the international stage. Over 89 caps for his country and a very impressive 55 goals, making him the second highest goal scorer in Japan’s history. Most notably 13 goals in 13 appearances in the qualifications for the 1994 World Cup in the USA, but sadly that wasn’t enough for Japan to qualify. Japan did qualify for the World Cup in France in 1998 and Kazu was vital in helping Japan get to France by providing 14 goals on the road to that world cup, but to everyone’s surprise he was dropped from the final squad that went to the World Cup. The only World Cup Kaza played in was in 2012 at the age of 45 and this was the Futsal World Cup in Thailand. He played all 4 games before being knocked out by Ukraine.
Today at the age of 53 and still a professional footballer in his beloved Japan he plays for Yokohama FC, where he has been playing for the last 15 years. He holds the record for being the oldest professional football player and oldest goal scorer in world football and puts his love for the game and a healthy diet down to his longevity in the game.
Read the text and then prepare to retell it in your own words
Prime - your best years
Retirement - when you don't work anymore
On the horizon - something near in the future
Set out - to start your journey
Unique - different to normal
Consisent - to do something regularly at a good level
Dazzle - to impressive someone by doing something special
To don - to wear something
Honours - awards
Local rival - a team or teams in the same city or town as you.
A cap - given to you each time you play for your country
Vital - very important
To be dropped - when you are no longer in the team or squard. Usually for a reason.
Logevity - something that lasts for a long time
You can find more football vocabulary here
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a) Why do you thik it didn't work out for Kazu in Europe?
b) Do you think anyone will break his records?
c) Why do you think Kazu was dropped for France 98?
d) What do you know about futsal?
a) Why do football players usually retire?
b) Can you think of any players who have retired in the last 5 years?
c) How old do you think too old is for professional football?
d) Do you know any famous Japanese footballers?