Story of a Legend: Kaka
Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite Kaka was born in Brasilia, Brazil in 1982. Kaka, whose mother is a math teacher and father a civil engineer, isn't your normal footballer.
Kaka began his footballing journey at the age of 15 when he was signed to the Sao Paulo youth club. On the January 12th 2001, at just 18, he made the first team, scoring 12 goals in just 27 matches. His year ended in epic fashion, as Kaka came on the pitch with time running out in the Rio- Sao Paolo cup with his side down 1-0. The young playmaker scored a double to win the first trophy of his career, and it was clear that a star was born.
The following year he scored 9 goals in 22 matches and began attracting attention from major European clubs. In total Kaka netted the ball 23 times in 58 matches for the Tricolor.
In the summer of 2003 Kaka signed with AC Milan for 8.5 million euros. He debuted in the clubs 2003/2004 season with the number 22. On October 5th 2003, the young Brazilian scored his first goal for the rossoneri in the Derby against Inter-Milan. Kaka finished his first season in the Serie A with 10 league goals, helping Milan to their first scudetto in 5 years. Kaka netted 9 goals in all competitions the next year, yet failed to win the champions league, losing in the final on penalties to Liverpool in Istanbul.
The 2005/2006 season was a break out year for Riccardo Kaka. Perhaps his most notable moment in the season came on September 13 with this goal to finish off Fenerbahce in the champions league qualifying round. He ended the season with 19 goals and 5 assists in 29 appearances.
On November 2nd, 2006, Kaka netted his first champions league hat trick against Anderlecht in what would prove to be the most successful season of his career. His successful run continued in Europe where he netted a last minute goal to eliminate Celtic, converted a penalty to beat Bayern Munich, and scored 4 goals in 180 minutes to eliminate Manchester United. On May 23, 2007 Milan defeated Liverpool in the final in Athens. Kaka ended the year as leading scorer of the tournament with 10 goals.
The next season, Kaka led Milan to win the European Super Cup against Sevilla, and the Club World Cup against Boca Juniors, scoring in both finals. By December 2007 he was named the European Footballer of the Year, World Soccer Player of the year, FIFA World Cup Best Player, and FIFA World Player of the Year.
In January of 2009 Manchester City offered around 120 million euros to buy the Brazilian from Milan, leading to heavy protests from the Rossoneri faithful. On January 19th, when the transfer looked as though it would go through, Kaka refused the offer, pledging his allegiance to the red and blacks. However, with the 2009/2010 season approaching, Real Madrid swooped in to bring the Brazilian’s talents to Spain for around 67 million euros.
From this point on, Kaka’s career would be marked by a string of unfortionate injuries and poor form, scoring just 29 times over 4 seasons with Los Blancos. While there, Kaka often found himself playing second fiddle to Christiano Ronaldo who signed for Madrid in the same season for 30 million more. After 120 appearances one Copa del Rey and one La Liga title, Kaka returned to AC Milan in September of 2013.
In his final year at AC Milan, Kaka carried the struggling giants on his shoulders. On October 30th 2013 he scored his 100th goal for Milan, becoming just the 10th player in the club’s history to do so. Although 2013/2014 season ended with AC Milan in 8th place, the fans will remember Kaka for his dedication to club, scoring 9 times in his last 33 matches.
Kaka’s International career is equally impressive. He won his first World Cup in 2002 at just 18 years old. Since, he has won 3 Confederations Cups, with 29 goals and 25 assists in 89 matches for the Selecao. Kaka entered the Brazilian hall of fame in 2008 an imprint of his feet was made, which sits in the Maracana.
In 2014 Kaka was transferred to MLS club Orlando City FC. There, he was immediately loaned out to Sao Paolo where he scored 3 times in 24 games. Now back at Orlando City, Kaka has 3 goals in just 6 appearances. It seems as though he is settling in well in the North American league, and we are happy to see him there.