Former AC Milan and Real Madrid star has decided to call it time on his illustrious football career, during which time he won both the World Cup with Brazil and the Champions League with AC Milan. Via Twitter, Kaka announced his retirement to his nearly 30m followers, “Father, it was much more than I could ever imagined. Thank you! I’m now ready for the next journey. In Jesus name. Amen.”
Kaka – who was handed the nickname by his younger brother – is actually called Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (in case you didn’t know). The attacking midfielder started off his career in Brazil’s Serie A with Sao Paulo in 2001, and he immediately got the attention of big clubs around the world.
In his inaugural season, Kaka played in 55 matches, scoring a remarkable 17 goals in the process. He continued the impressive form the following campaign, which proved to be even better as he bagged 23 goals in 48 games. But more importantly mid-way through the second season he was called up to represent Brazil in the 2002 World Cup held in Korea and Japan.
This is where Kaka was given the chance to showcase his talents on the ball to the world. Brazil went on to claim their fifth World Cup title that year and it gave Kaka his first major trophy of his astonishing career. Providers of internet betting in Brazil earmarked him for an imminent move to Europe.
Move to a European giant and first taste of club trophies
In the summer of 2003, the skillful Brazilian decided to make San Siro his home after being bought by AC Milan for €8.5m – a fee that was supposedly described by then Rossoneri owner Silvio Berlusconi as “peanuts.” And we would certainly agree with the former Italian prime minister, Kaka would go on to become a club legend and an indispensable member of the squad.
AC Milan missed out on 2005’s Champions League in Istanbul, when they lost to Liverpool in what is now commonly referred to as one of the most iconic games of the competition. But they would have their revenge two years later when they defeated Liverpool in Athens to clinch their 7th European title and Kaka’s first.
Move to an even bigger giant, but lack of success
(source: Twitter @KAKA)
Two years later at the age of 27, Europe’s most successful club came calling for the Brazilian, and he dutifully accepted by signing a 6-year contract with Real Madrid for a transfer fee of around €68m. The summer of 2009 saw a number of high profile stars arrive at the Bernabeu, including then world’s most expensive player Cristiano Ronaldo, for whom Man United received €94m from the Madrid side.
Unfortunately, his time at the Bernabeu wasn’t fruitful as he suffered with injuries and then subsequently with form, preventing him from showcasing his true talents in front of the Los Merengues crowd. The Copa del Rey crown (2011) and La Liga title (2012) count as his only major trophies during his four-year spell with Real Madrid.
With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil approaching, Kaka decided to pack his bags and head back to San Siro in order to gain form and more game time so he would be selected for the national team. Despite this move, then Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari opted against calling him up to the national side for the World Cup. The hosts were one of the favourites by online sportsbooks in Brazil, however they failed to deliver even a bronze on their home soil.
With his prospects in Europe diminished, Kaka played a short spell with Sao Paulo before moving to the MLS where he signed with Floridian side Orlando, where he eventually announced the end of his 16-year professional career.