Oldest professional footballer still dreams of playing in World Cup at 50

Japanese striker and the world's oldest professional football player, Kazuyoshi Miura, said on Tuesday (March 21) his dream was still to play at the World Cup.

Two weeks after celebrating his birthday on February 26, Miura, nicknamed "Kazu," scored his first goal as a 50-year-old giving Yokohama FC a 1-0 win over Thespa Kusatsu in a J-League Division 2 on March 12, proof that he was still going strong.

"People talk about my age, but I'm happy because I scored a goal as a forward. Plus, scoring a goal is always a result of regular training - how well you train, how motivated you are - that's more important. So a goal is simply a result of that, and whenever I see that result during a match, I'm happy," Miura told Reuters.

However, the iconic grey-haired striker has not yet had a chance to play at the FIFA World Cup.

Although he was the one responsible for netting 12 goals that led his nation qualifying for their maiden spot at the world stage in France, 1998, he was controversially dropped for the finals by head coach Takeshi Okada.

"It is important to keep dreaming. So playing at the World Cup is still my dream," Miura said.

Miura began his professional career at the age of 15 playing for Brazilian side Santos before going home to join Yomiuri FC (now called Tokyo Verdy) in 1990.

His rise to fame led him to becoming the first-ever Japanese footballer to play in Italy, when he joined Genoa in 1994.

He returned to Japan again in 1999 to join Vissel Kobe, and then signed for Yokohama F.C. in 2005.

He scored 55 goals and made 89 appearances for Japan prior to his international retirement in 2000.

According to FIFA, Miura became the oldest outfield player in the world earlier this month when he surpassed the age of Stanley Matthews, the first winner of the European Footballer of the Year award in 1956.

Matthews played 54 times for England between 1934 and 1957, with his club football at Stoke City and Blackpool from 1932 until his retirement in 1965.