'King Kazu' Miura returns to international duty after Japan Futsal NT selection

The 45-year-old hopes to be an important part of head coach Miguel Rodrigo's squad as Japan faces Brazil, Libya, and Portgual in the 2012 Futsal World Cup in Thailand
Japanese footballing legend Kazuyoshi Miura will wear his country's uniform for the first time in 12 years after being selected to participate in a training camp ahead of November's Futsal World Cup.

The widely-expected Thursday announcement comes months after he joined F-League club Espolada Hokkaido in January for a training stint, and made one appearance in league play.

"I was surprised when I was asked about participating in the World Cup," Miura told reporters at a press conference announcing the selections. "The match didn't go as well as I would have liked, but I'm still happy that they recognise the achievements I've had in my career.

"I don't just want to be a leader; I want to show my abilities on the pitch."

The 45-year-old's career spans 23 seasons, including short stints abroad at Genoa, Croatia Zagreb, and Sydney FC. The remainder of his time has been spent in the J-League, where he has become an enduring icon of Japanese football.

But despite amassing 89 caps for the Samurai Blue, Miura has yet to play in a World Cup final. He was on the pitch when Japan drew 2-2 with Iraq, failing to qualify for the 1994 finals in a match known as the Tragedy of Doha.

After contributing 14 goals toward Japan's qualification for the 1998 World Cup, including a six-goal effort against Macau, Miura was scratched from Takeshi Okada's roster as the team gathered in Switzerland before the tournament.

"I'll play as though I was playing for the national football team," Miura declared.

His selection is expected to bring a significant amount of attention to the country's futsal program.

"There's plenty of futsal matches, but lots of people don't know about it," Miura said of the fledgling sport's popularity in Japan. "I don't know how much influence I have, but if we win we'll expand that base. If we can unite the power of the Japanese people, we can get through the group stage.

"I want to do what I can to change the history of futsal."