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Ricardo Kaka

Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, better known as Kaka, was born in Brasilia to Simone Cristina dos Santos Leite and Bosco Izecson Pereira Leite on April 22nd 1982. He signed a contract with São Paulo at 15 and lead their youth team to ‘Copa de Juvenil’ glory. The nickname “Kaka” comes from the fact that his little brother Digão could not pronounce the name "Ricardo" when he was younger.

In September 2000, Kaka suffered a career threatening swimming pool accident and it was feared by all that the Brazilian would be left paralysed. Fortunately, Kaka managed to overcome a badly fractured spine and began his senior career at São Paulo at the age of 18, in March 2001, during the final of Torneio Rio-São Paulo (the Rio-São Paulo Tournament). He appeared as a second half substitute for Fabiano, while Sao Paulo were a goal down to Botafogo. Kaka scored the equalizer and the winning goal within a five minutes timeframe. His performance during the final allowed him to secure a place in São Paulo’s starting line-up.

During his first season as a senior, Kaka scored 12 goals in 27 appearances, followed by another 10 goals in 22 appearances the next season.

This fine display of footballing skills is what stimulated the interests of European clubs for Kaka during the 2001 season, when São Paulo barely missed out on the Brailian championship.

Kaka was the youngest player included in the 2002 Brazilian World Cup squad. He only played 17 minutes in South Korea & Japan against Costa Rica during the group stage, enough for him to win the World Cup that year while barely being 20.

Upon return from the World Cup, Kaka underwent a poor run of form, which was though to be due to him continuously being linked with Europe’s elite clubs. However, the Brazilian soon turned his performances around and with it his team.

In 2003, Kaka sealed place in Seleção’s first eleven and signed an advertising deal with Adidas. It was during the same year that Kaka signed a four year deal with AC Milan for a mere $ 9 million. He was considered a signing for the future and it was expected for him to be a backup for Rui Costa during the first season, but he debuted with an excellent performance in a 2-0 victory away vs. Ancona followed up by a very good Milan derby and a stunning goal vs. Empoli among other fine displays, which eventually forced Carlo Ancelotti to use him instead of Rui in the first eleven or to frequently switch to a “christmas tree” formation with Rui and Kaka behind Shevchenko or Inzaghi in a 4-3-2-1 setting. By the end of the season, he scored 13 goals.

During his second season Kaka scored 7 goals in 36 league appearances, helping Milan lift the Italian Super Cup and reach the UEFA Champions League final, which was unfortunately lost to Liverpool. Kaka was voted best midfielder in the Champions League and finished 9th in the 2005 Golden Ball ranking.

One of the Brazilians’ most famous goals was against Fenerbahçe, during Milan’s first game in the group stage of the 2005-2006 Champions League, which Milan eventually won 3-1. Kakà began his run from the midfield and dribbled past three defenders, before entering the area and shooting under Fenerbahçe goalkeeper.
“Kaka is a magical footballer who creates moments of inspiration. As well as being a superb passer of the ball with excellent positioning, he can run past players, shoot and score."
- Ronaldinho
Kaka has been successful in advertising as well, being one of the stars employed by Armani Jeans.

Kaka is married to Caroline Celico. They married on 23 December 2005 at the Christ Church in Sao Paulo.

Kaka is highly religious, a devout evangelical Christian.

In the summer of 2006 Kaka was heavily linked to Real Madrid and it’s been rumoured that the Spaniards have offered around £50m for him, but Milan declined.

Kaka also stated his intention of becoming one of Milan’s captains in the future, which gives reason to believe that he’ll be with us for many years to come.

Fact File
Name: Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite
Nickname: Kaka
Birth Place: Brasilia (BRAZIL)
Nationality: Brazilian
Birth Date: April 22nd 1982
Height: 1.86m
Former Club: São Paulo
Current Club: AC Milan (ITALY)

·2002 – Bola de Ouro – Golden Ball / Best player of the Brazilian League - São Paulo
·2002 - Fifa World Cup – BRAZIL
·2003 – European Super Cup – AC MILAN
·2003-2004 – Serie A – AC MILAN
·2004 – Italian Super Cup – AC MILAN
·2005 - Fifa Confederations Cup – BRAZIL
·UEFA Club Football Awards 2004-2005 - Best Midfielder – AC MILAN

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