Kaká

Kaká

Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʁiˈkaɾdu iˈzɛksõw duˈsɐ̃tus ˈlejt͡ʃi]; born 22 April 1982), commonly known as Kaká (Portuguese: [kaˈka] ( listen)) or Ricardo Kaká, is a Brazilian-Italian retired professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder.

Kaká made his professional club debut at age 18 at São Paulo FC in Brazil in 2001. After being named to the Bola de Ouro as the best player in the 2002 Campeonato Brasileiro, in 2003 he joined Italian club A.C. Milan for a fee of €8.5 million. At Milan, the club where he spent his prime years, Kaká won a Serie A title and was named the Serie A Footballer of the Year twice. In 2005, Milan finished runners up in the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final to Liverpool F.C., with Kaká, the top assist provider of the tournament, named the UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year. Two years later he led Milan to win the 2007 UEFA Champions League Final and was the tournament's top goal scorer. Kaká's pace, creative passing, goal scoring and dribbles from midfield saw him win the FIFA World Player of the Year, the Ballon d'Or, the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year and the IFFHS World's Best Playmaker awards.

After his success with Milan, Kaká joined Real Madrid for a transfer fee of €67 million. At the time, this was the second highest transfer fee (in euros) ever, behind only the €77.5 million (150 billion lire) fee for Zinedine Zidane. However, in the same transfer window Real Madrid broke the world record by signing Cristiano Ronaldo. After four injury ravaged seasons in Spain, which saw his physical ability to dribble from midfield rapidly decline, he returned to Milan for a season in 2013, scoring his 100th goal for the club. At the end of the 2013–14 season, he joined MLS expansion club Orlando City, but initially returned to his former Brazilian club São Paulo FC on loan. In 2015, he scored on his MLS debut for Orlando City; he was later included in the roster for the 2015 MLS All-Star Game, where he was named Most Valuable Player.

Kaká made his debut for the Brazil national team in 2002, and was selected for their victorious World Cup squad that year, as well as the 2006 and 2010 tournaments, leading the tournament in assists in the latter. He was also a member of Brazil's 2005 and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup-winning squads, winning the Golden Ball Award in the 2009 edition, as the tournament's best player. With success at club and international level, Kaká is one of eight players to have won the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League and the Ballon d'Or.

Owing to his performances at A.C. Milan where he was an elite playmaker, Kaká is widely considered one of the best players of his generation. In addition to his individual awards he was named in both the FIFPro World XI and the UEFA Team of the Year three times. In 2010, he was named in the A.C. Milan Hall of Fame. One of the world's most famous athletes, Kaká was the first sportsperson to amass 10 million followers on Twitter. Off the field Kaká is known for his humanitarian work. In 2004 he became the youngest ambassador of the UN World Food Programme. For his contributions on and off the pitch, Kaká was named in the Time 100 list of the world's most influential people in 2008 and 2009.