Sportco Football Legends Series: Ricardo Kaka
Those who grew up watching football in the mid-2000s would know how good Ricardo Kaka was. From the streets of Sao Paulo to a footballing legend, not many have achieved what Kaka has as a football player.
Ricardo Kaka is also famous for being the best player in the world before the Messi and Ronaldo era started. In this article, we glance through the career of Brazil and AC Milan's golden boy.
Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, better known as Kaka, was the main man behind AC Milan’s last UEFA Champions League triumph back in 2007, where he ended the tournament as the top scorer.
Kaka’s number might not look the most but people often forget that he wasn’t a pure forward, he played as an attacking midfielder.
Kaka: Career Overview
Ricardo Kaka started his professional career as a footballer at Sao Paulo at the age of 18. He was quick to make the European giants aware of his talent as he was a part of the Brazilian squad which won the FIFA World Cup back in 2002.
AC Milan was quick to buy the young talent for €8.5 million, which might not sound like a lot in today’s football world but it was a hefty amount back in the days, especially for a youngster.
Kaka would see himself turning into an AC Milan legend, after his Champions League run in 2007, he would win the Ballon d'Or. This would include Kaka in the very small list of players who won the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, and the Ballon d'Or.
The list consists of only 8 players and Kaka was the last to be on it so far, only Lionel Messi and Luka Modric came close but couldn’t win the World Cup finals.
In 2009, Kaka joined Real Madrid for €67 million. With the Spanish giants, Kaka won Copa del Rey and La Liga before he returned to AC Milan in 2013. Where he only played for one season and left for the MLS club, Orlando City SC.
Kaka was in the MLS for only 6 months before he left for his childhood club, Sao Paulo for a loan. He returned to Orlando City SC and continued to play until retirement, which happened in 2017. Kaka is one of the best Attacking Midfielders the game has ever seen.
It was a little sad how his career played out at Real Madrid with injuries and lack of chemistry within the team, this led to an unfair downfall to one of the best footballers at the time.
Kaka: International Career
Kaka might not have been the most crucial player in the 2002 Brazil squad but with the number of talents Brazil had back in 2002, it was difficult to even make the squad. The team was filled with superstars such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Juninho, Rivaldo, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, and many more.
Kaka would captain Brazil in the 2003 Gold Cup where he took the team into the finals but lost against Mexico.
The Brazilian featured in the 2006 and 2010 editions of the FIFA World Cup, however, he couldn't emulate his 2007 heroics with AC Milan for his country which saw Brazil getting knockout on both occasions in the quarter-finals at the hands of France (2006) and the Netherlands (2010).
Kaka ended his international career with 29 goals and 22 assists in the 92 games he played for Brazil. He also featured in 3 World Cups (2002, 2006, and 2010).
Kaka: Playing Style
Kaka was consistent when it came to being productive on the pitch with the ball at his feet. His pace with the ball at his feet was mesmerizing. His physique was a bit odd for a number 10, as he stood over 6 feet in height but he turned around the defense with his swift dribbles like any other creative midfielder.
His long strides with the ball in his possession were a menace to any defender who went up against him one on one.
The Brazilian's acceleration, mixed with his ball control and dribbling, made him one of the most lethal players to defend. He was not the flashiest of dribblers, yet defenders were left on the floor many times trying to the ball off his feet.
Kaka’s passing ability was no less, and he has 170 career assists to speak for it. His vision was ten out of ten as he would always spot if there was an open teammate on the ground before gliding the ball through towards the player.
Before taking a shot of his own, he would look to pass towards a teammate, if no one was available then came a shot.
One of Kaka’s biggest abilities was to not give in to the pressure of big lights. The bigger the stage, the bigger the performance was from Kaka.
Kaka: Career Stats
Kaka’s most successful run came at AC Milan, where he scored 104 goals and provided 85 assists in all competitions. To add to the numbers, he won more than few domestic trophies with the club and of course, the UEFA Champions League. Let’s look at Kaka’s club career statistics throughout his career:
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Total Goals (excluding international): 161
Total Assists (excluding international): 147
Kaka: Major Honors
✨ Serie A Winner – 2003/04
✨ Supercoppa Italiana Winner – 2004
✨ UEFA Champion’s League Winner – 2006/07
✨ UEFA Super Cup Winner – 2007
✨ FIFA Club World Cup Winner – 2007
✨ La Liga Winner – 2011/12
✨ Copa Del Rey Winner – 2010/11
✨ FIFA World Cup Winner – 2002
✨ FIFA Confederations Cup Winner – 2005, 2009
✨ Ballon d’Or Winner – 2007
✨ FIFA World Player of the Year Winner – 2007
✨ FIFPro World Player of the Year Winner – 2007
✨ UEFA Team of the Year – 2006, 2007, 2009
✨ UEFA Midfielder of the Year – 2004/05
✨ UEFA Forward of the Year – 2006/07
✨ Serie A Footballer of the Year Winner – 2004, 2007
✨ Samba Gold Winner – 2008
✨ UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year – 2015 (squad)
✨ AC Milan Hall of Fame – 2010