One of the greats has retired. One of the most important players of the 21st century. Kaka chose 17 December to announce his goodbye to the football pitch. Exactly ten years earlier, the Sao Paulo academy graduate won the FIFA World Player in Zurich – the most prestigious individual prize in football.
The star of a golden Milan team
Kaka was a 25-year-old at the time. And he was the last Brazilian player to win the award before the duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi began.
He had a perfect year in 2007, finishing as the top-scorer in the Champions League and the star man as AC Milan pipped Liverpool in the final. In Italy, Kaka is still remembered as one of the best players of a golden era at Milan. He was always a gentleman and an example of elegance on and off the pitch.
The injury complaints began one year later, forcing him in to the operating theatre. And he was never quite the same again.
The last eight years of Kaka’s career have been about overcoming problems and putting up with the pain that has become part of his day-to-day life. He will have to treat a hernia for the rest of his life. He would have been so much more if the injuries had not struck. But that doesn’t erase his remarkable legacy.
Focus on the good times
You could focus on the images of a frustrated player, who was a regular visitor to the medical department at Real Madrid. I prefer to remember the brilliant player who shone in the rossoneri of Milan and the yellow of Brazil.
He was one of the most versatile, talented, and efficient attacking midfielders of modern football. He created and scored goals with the same strokes of genius.
Kaka was a unique player who, unfortunately, we were not able to fully enjoy as he fell on the wrong side of destiny.