Tokyo: Twinkle-toed former Japan striker Kazuyoshi Miura insisted he had no plans to slink off into retirement as he turned 48 on Thursday, ahead of his 30th year as a professional footballer.
Dressed in a dapper wine-red suit as he celebrated his birthday with a giant cake, the J-League`s oldest player told local media: "This is the (Chinese) year of the goat and I was born under that zodiac sign, so I wanted to ring in my 30th season with a bit of colour.
"I`m not a pensioner yet, you know."
Though the pin-up looks have been replaced by a few tell-tale wrinkles, "King Kazu" will again lace up his boots for Japanese second division club Yokohama FC despite making only a couple of appearances last year and closing in on his half-century.
Miura, given the nickname during his heyday in the early 1990s when he was Asia`s best-known footballer, is Japan`s second-highest goalscorer with 55 goals in 89 matches.
He blazed a trail for Japanese players when he joined Italy`s Genoa in 1994, although a broken nose on his debut took some of the gloss off his trumpeted arrival.
When the former Dinamo Zagreb player was axed from the Blue Samurai squad by former coach Takeshi Okada before the country`s first World Cup appearance in 1998, it triggered a national debate.
Unperturbed, Miura defiantly offered his services for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa -- with no apparent hint of irony -- at the ripe old age of 43. Okada, in his second spell as coach, politely declined.
Miura finally got his dream to play for Japan in a World Cup at 45, albeit in the futsal version in Thailand.