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Kaká
Kaká visited Stadium St. Petersburg.jpg
Kaká in 2018
Personal information
Full name Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite
Date of birth 22 April 1982 (age 36)[1]
Place of birth Gama, Federal District, Brazil
Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)[2]
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1994–2000 São Paulo
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2001–2003 São Paulo 59 (23)
2003–2009 Milan 193 (70)
2009–2013 Real Madrid 85 (23)
2013–2014 Milan 30 (7)
2014–2017 Orlando City 75 (24)
2014 → São Paulo (loan) 19 (2)
Total 461 (149)
National team
2001 Brazil U20 5 (1)
2002–2016 Brazil 92 (29)
Honours[show]
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league
only
Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʁiˈkaɾdu
iˈzɛksõw duˈsɐ̃tus ˈlejt͡ʃi]; born 22 April 1982), commonly known as
Kaká (Portuguese: [kaˈka] (About this sound listen)) or Ricardo
Kaká,[3][4][5][6] is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who
played as an attacking midfielder. 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.[7][8][9] With success at club and
international level, he is one of eight players to have won the FIFA
World Cup, the UEFA Champions League and the Ballon d'Or.[10]

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.[11] 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
2009 as the tournament's best player.

In addition to his individual awards, between 2006 and 2009 he was


named in both the FIFA World XI and the UEFA Team of the Year
three times. In 2010, he was named in the A.C. Milan Hall of Fame.[12]
One of the world's most famous athletes, Kaká was the first sportsperson
to amass 10 million followers on Twitter.[13][14] Off the field Kaká is
known for his humanitarian work. In 2004 he became the youngest
ambassador of the UN World Food Programme.[15] 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.[16]

Contents
1 Early life
2 Club career
2.1 São Paulo
2.2 Milan
2.3 Real Madrid
2.4 Return to Milan
2.5 Orlando City
2.5.1 São Paulo (loan)
2.5.2 Return to Orlando City
2.6 Retirement
3 International career
4 Style of play and reception
5 Personal life
6 Career statistics
6.1 Club
6.2 International
6.2.1 International statistics
6.2.2 International goals
7 Honours
7.1 Club
7.2 International
7.3 Individual
8 References
9 External links
Early life
Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite was born in Gama, Brazil, to Bosco
Izecson Pereira Leite (a civil engineer) and Simone dos Santos (an
elementary school teacher).[17] He had a financially secure upbringing
that allowed him to focus on both school and football at the same
time.[18] His younger brother Rodrigo (best known as Digão) and
cousin Eduardo Delani are also professional footballers. Digão called
him "Caca" due to his inability to pronounce "Ricardo" when they were
young; it eventually evolved into Kaká.[19] The word has no specific
Portuguese translation.[20]

When he was seven, Kaká's family moved to São Paulo.[21] His school
had arranged him in a local youth club called "Alphaville," who
qualified to the final in a local tournament.[22] There he was discovered
by hometown club São Paulo FC, who offered him a place in the youth
academy.[23] At the age of 18, Kaká suffered a career-threatening and
possibly paralysis-inducing spinal fracture as a result of a swimming
pool accident,[24][25] but made a full recovery. He attributes his
recovery to God and has since tithed his income to his church.[25]

Club career
São Paulo
Kaká began his career with São Paulo at the age of eight.[23] He signed
a contract at 15 and led the São Paulo youth squad to Copa de Juvenil
glory. He made his senior side debut on 1 February 2001 and scored 12
goals in 27 appearances, in addition to leading São Paulo to its first and
only Torneio Rio-São Paulo championship, in which he scored two goals
in two minutes as a substitute against Botafogo in the final, which São
Paulo won 2–1.[26]

He scored ten goals in 22 matches the following season, and by this time
his performance was soon attracting attention from European clubs.[27]
Kaká made a total of 58 appearances for São Paulo, scoring 23
times.[28]
Milan

Kaká playing in Moscow with A.C. Milan


The steady European interest in Kaká culminated in his signing with the
European champions, Italian club A.C. Milan, in 2003 for a fee of
reported €8.5 million, described in retrospect as "peanuts" by club owner
Silvio Berlusconi.[29] Within a month, he cracked the starting lineup,
replacing Rui Costa in the attacking midfield playmaking position,
behind strikers Jon Dahl Tomasson, Filippo Inzaghi and Andriy
Shevchenko. His Serie A debut was in a 2–0 win over Ancona. He
scored ten goals in 30 appearances that season, also providing several
important assists, such as the cross which led to Shevchenko's title-
deciding headed goal, as Milan won the Scudetto and the UEFA Super
Cup, whilst finishing as runner up in the Intercontinental Cup and the
2003 Supercoppa Italiana.[30] Milan also reached the semi-finals of the
Coppa Italia, losing out to eventual winners Lazio, and were knocked
out of the quarter-finals of the Champions League by Deportivo de La
Coruña. Due to his performances in his debut season, in 2004, Kaká was
named Serie A Footballer of the Year, and was nominated for both the
Ballon d'Or (finishing in 15th place) and the FIFA World Player of the
Year Awards (finishing in ninth place).

Kaká was a part of the five-man midfield in the 2004–05 season, usually
playing in a withdrawn role behind striker Andriy Shevchenko. He was
supported by Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf defensively, as
well as Massimo Ambrosini, allowing Kaká as the attacking midfielder
and Rui Costa or Andrea Pirlo as the deep-lying playmaker to be in
charge of creating Milan's goalscoring chances, forming a formidable
midfield unit in both Italy and Europe. Milan began the season by
winning the Supercoppa Italiana against Lazio. He scored seven goals in
36 domestic appearances as Milan finished runner-up in the Scudetto
race. Milan also reached the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia that
season. Kaká played a pivotal role in Milan's Champions League
campaign that season, helping them to reach the final against Liverpool,
scoring two goals and providing five assists. Dubbed the "Miracle of
Istanbul," Milan led 3–0 at half time, before Liverpool staged a
comeback, scoring three goals in six minutes, and eventually won the
match 3–2 on penalties.[31] A match widely regarded as one of the
greatest finals in the competition's history, Kaká was imperious in the
first half; he first won the early free-kick which led to Paolo Maldini's
opening goal, later beginning the play that led to Hernán Crespo's first
goal and Milan's second of the night, before executing a long curling
pass that split open the Liverpool defence and rolled perfectly into the
path of Crespo to score Milan's third.[31][32][33] Kaká was once again
nominated for the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year
Awards, finishing ninth and eighth respectively, and he was named the
2005 UEFA Club Football Best Midfielder.

Kaká presenting a Milan jersey to then-Brazilian President Luiz Inácio


Lula da Silva in 2007
The 2005–06 season saw Kaká score his first hat-tricks in domestic
competitions. On 9 April 2006, he scored his first Rossoneri hat-trick
against Chievo, with all three goals scored in the second half.[34] Milan
were knocked out in the semi-finals of the 2005–06 Champions League
to eventual champions Barcelona, and were once again eliminated in the
quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia. Milan also finished once again as
runners-up in Serie A, with Kaká scoring 17 goals in the league. After
the 2006 Calciopoli scandal, however, Milan were deducted 30 points,
which placed them in third in the table. Kaká was nominated for the
Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year Awards for the third
consecutive year, finishing 11th and seventh respectively. He was also
selected to be part of both the UEFA Team of the Year[35] and the
FIFPro World XI for the first time in his career.[36]

Andriy Shevchenko's departure to Chelsea for the 2006–07 season


allowed Kaká to become the focal point of Milan's offense as he
alternated between the midfield and forward positions, operating at
times as a striker or as a second striker behind Filippo Inzaghi, as well as
in his more typical attacking midfield position. On 2 November 2006, he
scored his first Champions League hat-trick in a 4–1 group stage win
over the Belgian side Anderlecht.[37] He finished as the top scorer in the
2006–07 Champions League campaign with ten goals.[38] One of the
goals helped the Rossoneri eliminate Celtic in the round of 16, 1–0 on
aggregate,[39] and he scored three goals against Manchester United in
the semi-finals.[40][41] Milan also reached the semi-finals of the Coppa
Italia that season, losing out to winners Roma, and finished fourth in
Serie A.

Kaká celebrating the 2007 UEFA Champions League triumph with his
Milan teammates. A number of individual accolades followed for Kaká
Kaká won the Champions League title when Milan defeated Liverpool
2–1 on 23 May 2007, avenging the previous loss on penalties two years
before. Though he went scoreless, he won a free kick that led to the first
of Filippo Inzaghi's two goals, and provided the assist for the
second.[42] For his stellar play throughout the competition, he was
voted the Vodafone Fans' Player of the Season in a poll of over 100,000
UEFA.com visitors. On 30 August, Kaká was named by UEFA as both
the top forward of the 2006–07 Champions League season and UEFA
Club Footballer of the Year, as well as being named as part of the UEFA
Team of the Year for the second time.[43][44] He once again finished as
the second-best assist-provider of the Champions League, providing
five, and was voted the 2007 IFFHS World's Best Playmaker.[45]

Kaká in action with Milan against Torino on 19 April 2009


Milan began its 2007–08 season by winning the UEFA Super Cup on 31
August, defeating Sevilla 3–1, with Kaká scoring the third goal.[46]
Kaká had made a dribbling run into Sevilla's area, winning a penalty,
which he then proceeded to take. Although it was saved by goalkeeper
Andrés Palop, Kaká scored on the rebound with a header. Kaká had
previously hit the post in the first half.[47] He played his 200th career
match with Milan in a 1–1 home draw with Catania on 30 September,
scoring from a penalty,[48] and on 5 October, he was named the 2006–
07 FIFPro World Player of the Year, and was elected as part of the
FIFPro World XI for the second time in his career.[49][50] On 2
December 2007, Kaká became the eighth Milan player to win the Ballon
d'Or, as he finished with a decisive 444 votes, well ahead of runner-up
Cristiano Ronaldo.[51][52] He signed a contract extension through 2013
with Milan on 29 February 2008.[53]

On 16 December, Kaká won the FIFA Club World Cup against Boca
Juniors, scoring Milan's third goal of the match in a 4–2 victory which
allowed them to be crowned World Champions. Kaká had previously
assisted Filippo Inzaghi's opening goal of the match and also assisted
Inzaghi's final goal of the match after an impressive exchange with
Clarence Seedorf; he was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player of
the competition.[54] On 17 December, Kaká was voted the 2007 FIFA
World Player of the Year with 1,047 votes, ahead of Lionel Messi with
504 and Cristiano Ronaldo with 426.[55][56]

"He's the complete player."


—Pelé on Kaká after he was named the 2007 FIFA World Player of the
Year.[57]
In January 2008, Kaká was also named the 2007 Serie A Footballer of
the Year, winning the award for the second time in his career. Due to his
contributions on and off the pitch, Time magazine named Kaká in the
Time 100, a list of the world's 100 most influential people, on 2
May.[58] On 14 October, he cast his footprints into the Estádio do
Maracanã's sidewalk of fame, in a section dedicated to the memory of
the country's top players.[59] He won the Time 100 honour again in
2009.[60] Kaká finished the 2007–08 season with 15 goals in Serie A
and was nominated as a finalist for the FIFA World Player of the Year,
finishing in fourth place, and was nominated for the Ballon d'Or,
finishing in eighth place. He was named in the six-man shortlist for the
2008 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, and was selected in the
FIFPro World XI for the third time in his career.[61]

"I remember how badly we took it as a team when Kaká left Milan. For
two or three years he was the best player in the world. There was a point
when teams just had no idea how to stop him."
— Milan teammate and Italian playmaker Andrea Pirlo on Kaká leaving
the club.[62]
BBC reported on 13 January 2009 that Manchester City made a bid for
Kaká for over £100 million. Milan Director Umberto Gandini replied
that Milan would only discuss the matter if Kaká and Manchester City
agreed to personal terms.[63] Kaká initially responded by telling
reporters he wanted to "grow old" at Milan and dreamed of captaining
the club one day, but later said, "If Milan want to sell me, I'll sit down
and talk. I can say that as long as the club don't want to sell me, I'll
definitely stay."[64] On 19 January, Silvio Berlusconi announced that
Manchester City had officially ended their bid after a discussion
between the clubs, and that Kaká would remain with Milan.[65] Milan
supporters had protested outside the club headquarters earlier that
evening, and later chanted outside Kaká's home, where he saluted them
by flashing his jersey outside a window.[66] Kaká finished his final
season with Milan by scoring 16 goals, helping Milan finish third in
Serie A, and once again being elected as a finalist for the FIFA World
Player of the Year Award, finishing fourth in voting for the second-
straight year. He was also nominated for the Ballon d'Or award,
finishing in sixth place, and was named in the UEFA Team of the Year
for the third time in his career.[67]
Real Madrid

Kaká during his presentation with Real Madrid in June 2009


On 3 June 2009, it was reported that newly elected Real Madrid
president Florentino Pérez had offered to buy Kaká from Milan for a
reported €68.5 million,[68][69] two days after the player had left for
international duty with Brazil.[70] Milan vice-chairman and CEO
Adriano Galliani confirmed that he and Kaká's father, Bosco Leite, had
traveled to Mexico to meet with La Volpe: "We had lunch and spoke
about Kaká. I don't deny it. Negotiations exist, but a deal has yet to be
done."[71] On 4 June, Galliani told Gazzetta dello Sport that financial
reasons were his motive for the talks with La Volpe: "We cannot allow
[Milan] to lose €70 million ... The reasons behind Kaká's departure
would be economic."[71][72] On 8 June, Milan and Real Madrid
confirmed Kaká’s move to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on a six-year
deal[73][74] for €67 million fee.[11]

Kaká was unveiled as a Real Madrid player on 30 June 2009, and he


made his unofficial debut on 7 August 2009 in a 5–1 friendly victory
against Toronto FC.[75] He scored his first goal for Madrid during a pre-
season match on 19 August 2009, in a 5–0 victory against Borussia
Dortmund.[76] Kaká later made his league debut on 29 August 2009 in a
3–2 win against Deportivo de La Coruña.[77] He scored his first goal, a
penalty, on 23 September in a 2–0 win against Villarreal.[78] Real
Madrid finished the season as runners-up in La Liga, with Kaká scoring
eight goals and providing six assists in La Liga, and nine goals and eight
assists in all competitions.[79]
Kaká celebrating a goal with Real Madrid in a 4–1 home victory over
Real Sociedad on 6 February 2011
On 5 August 2010, Real Madrid announced that Kaká had undergone a
successful surgery on a long-standing left knee injury and would face up
to four months on the sidelines.[80] Kaká returned to training after a
long lay-off, with manager José Mourinho commenting that having
Kaká back from injury was like a new signing.[81][82] After an eight-
month absence, Kaká returned to play by entering as a substitute for
Karim Benzema on the 77th minute of a 3–2 victory over Getafe on 3
January 2011. He said he was "(...) happy for playing a game again and
for stepping onto a pitch."[83] His first league goal (and his first of the
season) after his return from injury came with an assist from Cristiano
Ronaldo on a 4–2 victory over Villarreal on 9 January 2011.[84]

In March 2011, Kaká suffered from Iliotibial band syndrome, which


kept him sidelined for a few weeks. After returning from injury, he
appeared in a convincing win over Valencia, scoring two goals. At the
end of his second season with the club, Real Madrid and Kaká had won
the Copa del Rey, although they finished as runners-up in both La Liga
and in the Supercopa de España to rivals Barcelona. Real Madrid were
also knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona in the semi-
finals of the competition. Kaká finished his season with seven goals and
six assists in all competitions in 20 appearances.[79]
Kaká takes on Tottenham Hotspur defender Michael Dawson in the
UEFA Champions League, April 2011
On 27 September 2011, Kaká experienced one of his best matches as a
Real Madrid player during a 3–0 victory over Ajax in the Champions
League, as he scored one goal, provided one assist and participated in
one of the best team build-ups of the matchday: a counterattacking move
involving Mesut Özil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.[85] Kaká
was later chosen the best player of the Champions League
Matchday.[86] With this match, Kaká experienced one of the best starts
to a season he has ever had, scoring two goals, serving two assists and
winning one penalty for his team.[87] In 2011–12, Real Madrid won La
Liga with a record 100 points that year, with Kaká providing nine assists
and scoring five goals in the competition.[79] They were, however,
eliminated for the second year in a row in the semi-finals of the
Champions League, losing out to eventual runners-up Bayern Munich on
penalties. The decisive misses for Real Madrid were by Ronaldo, Kaká
and Sergio Ramos. Kaká was one of the top assist providers of the
Champions League that season, providing five assists. He finished the
season with eight goals and 14 assists in all club competitions.[79] Real
Madrid were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey by
eventual winners Barcelona.

Kaká takes a corner kick for Real Madrid in a La Liga game against
Sevilla in February 2013
Real Madrid began the 2012–13 season by winning the 2012 Supercopa
de España against rivals Barça. On 4 December 2012, after scoring in a
4–1 win against Ajax, Kaká became the top Brazilian goalscorer in
Champions League history, with 28 goals.[88] After the match, Kaká
said, "This was an important goal for me, and I hope I've still got goals
left to help Real Madrid. It was an important win and a special
night."[89] Kaká came on just before an hour was played, but was sent
off as he was controversially booked twice within 18 minutes in a 0–0
draw against Osasuna on 12 January 2013.[90] It was his first sending-
off at Madrid since he joined from Milan in 2009 and his first red card
since he was dismissed playing for Brazil against the Côte d'Ivoire at the
2010 FIFA World Cup.[91] Real Madrid finished the season in second
place in La Liga behind Barcelona, and also finished runners-up in the
Copa del Rey to city rivals Atlético Madrid. They were eliminated in the
semi-finals of the Champions League for the third consecutive year by
eventual runners-up Borussia Dortmund.

On 29 August 2013, Kaká expressed his desire to leave Real


Madrid,[92] having scored 29 goals and provided 32 assists in 120
appearances in all competitions over four seasons at the club.[93][94] He
said goodbye to Real Madrid and its fans in an open letter on
Twitter.[95]

Return to Milan
Milan confirmed that Kaká would join the club on 2 September 2013
from Real Madrid on a free transfer with only performance-related
incentives owed to Madrid; after agreeing to personal terms, he signed a
two-year contract.[96][97][98] Kaká's contract was worth €4 million net
per year and he was given the number 22 shirt, the same number he wore
for Milan during his first spell.[99][100] He was also made the vice-
captain upon his arrival.[101] He captained Milan in his debut for his
second spell, taking the armband from goalkeeper Marco Amelia in a
match against Chiasso.[102]

Kaká tore his left adductor muscle during his first competitive
appearance, deciding not to accept any wages from Milan whilst he
regained fitness.[103] He made his return for Milan on 19 October after
coming on as a 76th-minute substitute in a 1–0 home victory against
Udinese. In his next match, on 22 October, Kaká assisted Robinho in the
1–1 home draw against Barcelona in the Champions League. His first
goal, described by ESPN as "a sensational curling shot from the edge of
the area into the top right-hand corner," opened the scoring in a 1–1
home draw at San Siro to Lazio on 30 October.[104] On 7 January 2014,
Kaká scored his 100th goal for Milan by an opening goal in a match
against Atalanta; he later went on to score another goal 30 minutes
later.[105] On 11 March he scored a goal against Atletico Madrid in
Vicente Calderón Stadium, this goal made him the last player to score
against Atlético Madrid at Vicente Calderón for three seasons in
knockout phase until Isco scored against them in 2016–17 UEFA
Champions League semi final.[106] On 29 March 2014, Kaká scored
twice in a 3–0 win against Chievo, his 300th match for Milan.[107][108]

In June 2014, it was reported that Kaká had entered into advanced
discussions with Orlando City to join the team in January 2015 when
they enter Major League Soccer (MLS).[109][110] On 30 June 2014,
Kaká had his Milan contract terminated through mutual consent despite
having a year remaining, by activating a release clause as a result of the
team not qualifying for European competitions.[111]
Orlando City

Kaká postgame in Houston, March 2015


Kaka joined future MLS franchise Orlando City as their first Designated
Player.[112] He stated that he had "always" wanted to play in the United
States, and cited the Brazilian owner Flávio Augusto da Silva as a reason
for signing. Until Orlando entered the league in 2015, Kaká was loaned
to his first club São Paulo, which he called "really satisfying."[113][114]

By signing for Orlando City, Kaká became the highest-paid player in


MLS history, with a base salary of US$6.6 million per year, and with a
guaranteed compensation of $7.2 million per year.[115][116][117][118]

São Paulo (loan)


On 3 July 2014, Kaká arrived at São Paulo and began training the next
day.[119] He made his comeback in a league match against Goiás on 27
July 2014, starting and scoring a goal in the 76th minute, although his
team lost 2–1.[120] On 4 September 2014, in the second round of the
Copa Sudamericana, Kaká scored in a 2–0 victory over Criciúma.[121]
On 9 November 2014, Kaká scored the winning goal in a 2–1 victory
over Vitória.[122]

Return to Orlando City


Kaká scored in his first match for Orlando City, a 4–0 friendly win over
FC Dallas.[123] He then scored again in a 1–1 friendly draw against
New York City FC.[124] On 8 March 2015, Kaká scored a free kick for
the equaliser in a 1–1 draw on his MLS debut against New York City FC
at the Citrus Bowl, the first in Orlando City's competitive
history.[125][126][127] Kaká scored one and assisted another in a 2–2
draw with Montreal Impact on 28 March 2015.[128][129] He came
second in the Etihad Airways MLS Player of the Month poll for his
performances in March.[130]

On 13 April 2015, Kaká scored a penalty against Portland Timbers in a


2–0 win.[131][132] On 17 May 2015, Kaká scored one and assisted
another in Orlando City's 4–0 win over defending MLS champions LA
Galaxy. By doing so, Orlando became the first expansion team to beat a
defending MLS champion by more than a three-goal
margin.[133][134][135][136] On 30 June, Kaká scored Orlando's
opening goal in the 21st minute of his Open Cup debut, helping his team
to a 2–0 home win over Columbus Crew, in the fifth round of the
competition, which enabled the club to advance to the quarter-
finals.[137] On 5 July, he received the first straight red card of his career
in a 1–1 away draw against Real Salt Lake; he had previously scored a
goal during the match.[138] Later that month, Kaká was named to the
2015 MLS All-Star Game as the team's captain.[139] During the MLS
All-Star Game on 29 July, at the Dick's Sporting Goods Park in
Commerce City, Colorado, he scored from a penalty and later assisted
David Villa as the MLS All-Stars defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2–1;
Kaká was named MVP of the match.[140] Despite his efforts, he was
unable to help Orlando City become the first expansion team to qualify
for the MLS Cup Playoffs since the Seattle Sounders in 2009, as
Orlando narrowly missed out on the sixth seed spot in the Eastern
Conference;[141] he ended his first season with 9 goals and 7 assists in
28 MLS appearances, also scoring another goal from two appearances in
the 2015 MLS Open Cup.[142]

Kaká with MLS All-Star team in 2016


After initially being sidelined through injury and missing Orlando City's
first three matches of the 2016 MLS season, Kaká returned to the team's
starting line-up and made his first appearance of the season on 3 April,
against the Portland Timbers; he assisted two goals and later scored one
himself in a 4–1 home victory,[143] and was subsequently named to the
MLS team of the week for his performance.[144] In July 2016, he was
included in the roster for the 2016 MLS All-Star Game.[145] He
finished his second MLS season with the club with 9 goals and 10 assists
in 24 appearances,[142] as Orlando once again failed to qualify for the
MLS Cup Playoffs.[146]

On 5 March 2017, in Orlando City's opening match of the MLS season


against New York City, and the club's stadium debut, Kaká hit the turf
clutching his left leg just minutes after the game had started; the Lions
beat their opponents 1–0. Later, it was reported that Kaká would be out
for 6 weeks due to a hamstring strain.[147] Kaka came back in action
and he scored on his return in Orlando City 2–0 win over Colorado
Rapids on 29 April.[148] The next week, he scored another goal in
Orlando's 2–1 loss against Toronto FC.[149] He scored his third goal of
the season in a 2–2 draw against Sporting KC on 13 May 2017.[150] On
14 June, he played in the 3–1 loss in U.S. Open Cup match against
Miami FC which was coached by his former teammate Alessandro
Nesta.[151] On 17 June he assisted Matías Pérez García's goal against
Montreal Impact.[152] The following match, he provided another assist
for Scott Sutter last minute equalizer against Seattle Sounders.[153] On
7 July, he was chosen to play for the 2017 MLS All-Star Game for the
third consecutive season.[154] He scored a long range stunner against
Atlanta United on 29 July.[155]

Orlando City were officially eliminated from playoff contention on 7


October, following New York Red Bulls's 3–0 victory over Vancouver
Whitecaps.[156] Kaká announced on 11 October 2017 that he would not
be renewing his contract with Orlando City for the 2018 MLS
season.[157] He played his last official match for Orlando on 15 October
in a 1–0 home defeat against Columbus Crew;[158][159] he finished the
2017 MLS season with 6 goals and 5 assists in 23 league
appearances.[142] He later appeared once more for Orlando, in a 6–1
home win over the Puerto Rican national team in the Fuerza Puerto Rico
friendly, held on 5 November, to raise money for Hurricane Maria relief.
In total, Kaká made 75 league appearances in his three seasons with
Orlando, scoring 24 goals and providing 22 assists.[160]

Retirement
Kaká announced his retirement on 17 December 2017, after turning
down offers from former clubs São Paulo and Milan. He also expressed
interest in working as a director, confirming that his former club Milan
had offered him a role.[161][162]

International career
Kaká with Brazil
Kaká was called up for the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, but
the Brazilians crashed out to Ghana in the quarter-finals. Several months
later, he made his debut for the senior Brazil squad in a friendly match
against Bolivia on 31 January 2002. He was part of Brazil's 2002 FIFA
World Cup-winning squad in Korea/Japan, but played only 25 minutes,
all of which were in the first round match against Costa Rica.[163]

In 2003, Kaká was the captain for the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup,
where Brazil, competing with their under-23 team, finished as runner-up
to Mexico. He scored three goals during the tournament. He was
included in Brazil's squad for 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup in
Germany. He appeared in all five matches and scored one goal in a 4–1
win over Argentina in the final.[164]

Kaká training with Brazil prior to the start of the 2006 FIFA World Cup
Kaká started in his first FIFA World Cup finals in 2006 and scored his
first and only goal of the tournament in Brazil's 1–0 victory over Croatia
in Brazil's opener, for which he was named Man of the Match.[165]
Kaká was unable to keep up the momentum for the remainder of the
tournament, as Brazil was eliminated by France in the quarter-finals with
French star Thierry Henry scoring the winner.[166]
In 2006 he was part of the “magic quartet”. Kaká and Ronaldinho in
midfield, backed up by strikers Ronaldo and Adriano. The team was top
heavy and unbalanced, and forced to work back in midfield, Kaká paid
the price.

— Tim Vickery writing for ESPN on Brazil’s disappointing 2006 World


Cup.[167]
In a friendly against rivals Argentina at the Emirates Stadium, London
on 3 September 2006, after entering as a substitute, Kaká received the
ball off a deflection from an Argentina corner kick and outran Lionel
Messi while taking the ball down three quarters of the field to
score.[168] Exhibiting his “fantastic acceleration and balletic grace”,
Kaká regards it as the greatest goal he ever scored.[169] On 12 May
2007, citing an exhaustive schedule of Serie A, Champions League and
national team play, Kaká bowed out of the 2007 Copa América, which
Brazil won.[170] After missing out on the Copa América, he returned to
play in Brazil's friendly match against Algeria on 22 August 2007.

Kaká participated in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, wearing the


number 10 shirt, marking his first international tournament since the
2006 World Cup. His only two goals came in Brazil's group stage
opener against Egypt on 14 June, when he scored a goal in the fifth
minute and then added a 90th-minute penalty in Brazil's 4–3
victory.[171] Kaká also provided two assists throughout the tournament.
He received the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament at the
Confederations Cup and was also named the Man of the Match in the
final after helping Brazil to a 3–2 win against the United
States.[172][173][174]
Kaká (left) playing for Brazil against Chile at the 2010 World Cup.
At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, during the match against Ivory
Coast on 20 June, Kaká received a controversial red card after receiving
two yellow cards. The second card was given for an alleged elbow in the
direction of Abdul Kader Keïta.[175][176][177] Kaká ended the
tournament with three assists in total, as the joint-top assist provider,
although he failed to score a goal during the tournament. Brazil
eventually ended up losing 2–1 to World Cup eventual runners-up
Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the tournament.[178] After more
than a year absence from the national team due to a series of injuries,
Kaká was recalled on 27 October 2011 for the friendly matches against
Gabon and Egypt in November.[179] He later had to be removed from
the squad due to a calf injury, and thus did not play either of the
matches.[180]

"The best player I have ever played with? That’s Ronaldo, il Fenomeno.
The other Ronaldo, Cristiano, probably makes my top five, but I have
seen il Fenomeno do things nobody else has ever done.”
—Kaká speaking in 2013 on his Brazil teammate Ronaldo being the best
player he’s played with.[181]
After not appearing for Brazil in two years, Kaká was recalled on 28
September 2012 for the friendly matches against Iraq and Japan in
October.[182] Following his recall to the Seleção squad, Kaká stated, "I
admit it was a surprise this call ... When the list was published, I was
extremely happy. It was like my first call-up."[183] Brazil coach Mano
Menezes said that despite Kaká and Oscar's similarities, the two would
be able to play alongside each other, as Kaká had slightly changed his
playing style.[184] On his return to the national side, Kaká scored in
both matches, a 6–0 win over Iraq[185] and a 4–0 win over Japan.[186]
Kaká retained his place in the squad for Brazil's 1,000th game in history,
a 1–1 friendly draw against Colombia on 14 November 2012.[187]

On 5 March 2013, Kaká was called up by new Brazil coach Luiz Felipe
Scolari for the first time since the coach's return, for friendlies with Italy
in London and Russia in Geneva, both taking place late in that
month.[188][189] Kaká, however, was not selected for the national team
for the 2013 Confederations Cup and was also omitted in Scolari's 2014
World Cup squad.[190] After almost 18 months, Kaká was recalled to
the Brazilian team in October 2014 by new manager Dunga for
friendlies against Argentina and Japan.[191][192][193] On 1 May 2015,
Kaká was selected as one of seven stand-by players in Brazil's
preliminary squad for the 2015 Copa América,[194][195][196] although
he was not called up for the final tournament.[197] In August 2015, he
was called up to the national team once again for the team's international
friendlies in September, and made a substitute appearance in Brazil's 1–
0 victory over Costa Rica on 5 September; this was his first appearance
for Brazil in almost a year, and his 90th appearance for his country
overall.[198] Following Douglas Costa's left thigh injury in late May
2016, which ruled him out of Brazil's Copa América Centenario squad,
Kaká was called up as a replacement by Dunga.[199] On 30 May, he
subsequently appeared as an 80th-minute substitute in a pre-Copa
América friendly warm-up match against Panama, which ended in a 2–0
victory to Brazil.[200] A muscle injury sustained in early June, however,
also ruled Kaká out of the upcoming tournament; he was replaced by
Ganso.[201]

Style of play and reception


"For two, maybe three seasons [at Milan] he was the best player in the
world. There was nothing he couldn’t do."
—Brazilian playmaker Ronaldinho on Kaká during his prime.[202]

Kaka’s A.C. Milan jersey in the San Siro museum


Regarded as one of the best players of his generation, Kaká has been
described on the FIFA website as having the "capacity to glide almost
effortlessly past opponents, provide defence-splitting passes and score
consistently from distance."[203][204][205] During his prime at Milan
in the mid to late 2000s, and prior to the injuries he suffered at Real
Madrid which affected his mobility, Kaká was a quick, agile, highly
skilful and creative team player with great pace, ball control and
balance, capable of dribbling past defenders in one on one situations as
well as during counterattacks.[206][207][208][209] Regarding his speed
and elegance on the ball, in 2017, Karl Matchett of Bleacher Report
stated:

"His gait, particularly when in possession, was mesmeric. Reasonably


unusual in stature for a playmaking midfielder at a little over six feet
tall, Kaká could still turn and accelerate past a defender in the same way
the smaller, low-centre-of-gravity No. 10s would manage—but that
same elegant, long-legged stride made him unstoppable on the
run."[209]

Tim Vickery of ESPN wrote, “Kaká running forward with the ball had
the power of a freight train. He married power with finesse”, but on the
impact of his knee and groin issues at Madrid, added, “once his
acceleration had been reduced, he lacked the subtlety to shine as
before.”[167] Carl Anka of the BBC writes that his “knee and groin
problems sapped him of the explosive half-yard burst he needed to
navigate the corridors of midfield uncertainty”, and that by 2009 he
“was already on the wane.”[169] Anka adds that being the last player to
win FIFA World Player of the Year (in 2007) prior to the Messi-
Ronaldo dominance over the next decade, Kaká’s standing in the game
has been “lost in a haze”, with his “greatness just out of sight”.[169]

Kaká was also renowned for his vision and passing ability, enabling him
to create chances for teammates.[210] Having performed predominantly
as a playmaking attacking midfielder throughout his career, he was
known for being capable of scoring goals as well as creating and
assisting them.[211] A versatile player, he was also deployed in several
other attacking positions throughout his career, performing as a winger
on either flank,[206][212] as a supporting forward,[213] and on occasion
as an outright striker,[208][214] or even in a deeper role as a midfield
playmaker.[215] In addition to these characteristics, Kaká also possessed
a powerful and accurate shot from both inside and outside the penalty
area, with either foot;[216] he was also an accurate penalty
taker.[217][218]
Personal life

Kaká with his then wife Caroline


Kaká married his childhood sweetheart Caroline Celico on 23 December
2005 at a Rebirth in Christ church in São Paulo.[219] The couple have
two children: son Luca Celico Leite (born 10 June 2008) and[220]
daughter Isabella (born 23 April 2011).[221] In 2015, Kaká and Celico
announced their divorce via social media.[222]

Kaká was sworn in as an Italian citizen on 12 February 2007.[223] He


features prominently in Adidas advertising and also has a modeling
contract with Armani, the latter preventing him from appearing in a
photo collection alongside his Milan teammates that was published by
Dolce & Gabbana in early 2007.[224]

Kaká appeared on the cover of the Italian edition of EA Sports' FIFA


video game FIFA 07, alongside compatriot and global coverstar
Ronaldinho;[225] he was also featured on the cover of some regional
editions of FIFA 11,[226] FIFA 12,[227] and FIFA 16.[228]

Kaká (second from right) at Milan with Ronaldinho and David Beckham
to his right. The three players have a large fan base on social
media.[229]
Kaká cites Raí, the former Brazilian national team and São Paulo FC
captain, as his footballing role model.[230][231] He is best friends with
Marcelo Saragosa, who also played professionally. They each served as
the best man at the other's wedding.[232] He is also close friends with
Colombia striker Radamel Falcao.[233]

In April 2012, Kaká became the first sportsperson to amass ten million
followers on Twitter,[13] and by March 2015, Kaká had the fifth-highest
social media rank in the world among athletes, behind Cristiano
Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, David Beckham and Neymar, with 33 million
Facebook fans.[229][234]

A pair of Kaká's Adidas boots, with a declaration of his Christian faith.


In his goal celebrations Kaká invariably points towards the skies to
express gratitude to God.[235]
Kaká is a devout evangelical Christian who was an active member of the
São Paulo-based Rebirth in Christ Church.[236] He became engrossed in
religion at the age of 12: "I learnt that it is faith that decides whether
something will happen or not." He removed his jersey to reveal an "I
Belong to Jesus" T-shirt and openly engaged in prayer moments after the
final whistle of Brazil's 2002 World Cup, and Milan's 2004 Scudetto and
2007 Champions League triumphs. He also had the same phrase, along
with "God Is Faithful," stitched onto the tongues of his boots.[19]
During the post-match celebration following Brazil's 4–1 win over
Argentina in the 2005 Confederations Cup final, he and several of his
teammates wore T-shirts that read "Jesus Loves You" in various
languages. While receiving the FIFA World Footballer of the Year
award in 2007, he said when he was young he just wanted to be a
professional player for São Paulo and play one game for the Brazil
national team, but that "God gave [him] more than he ever asked
for."[237] Though sharing a common goal, Kaká is not currently a
formal member of the organization Atletas de Cristo ("Athletes of
Christ").[238] In goal celebrations, he usually points to the sky as a
gesture of thanks to God.[235] Kaká's favourite music genre is
gospel,[239] and his favourite book is the Bible.[240] In an interview
with the Brazilian television O Globo, Kaka manifested the will to
become an evangelical pastor.[241]

Since November 2004, Kaká has served as an Ambassador Against


Hunger for the United Nations' World Food Programme, the youngest to
do so at the time of his appointment.[15] In August 2015, Kaká
announced he will attend Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida,
and major in Sports Marketing.[242] Kaká was one of several Brazilian
international footballers to endorse Jair Bolsonaro in the 2018 Brazilian
presidential election.[243]