The man named Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, more commonly known as Kaka, turned 31. The Brazilian has had a tremendous impact on the game, both on the club and international level. Click through to see some of the best moments from his storied career.
We may have already seen the best of Kaka’s international career, but he is still contributing his leadership and experience to the national team, having been called up in March for a pair of friendlies. Including friendlies, he’s scored a total of 28 international goals.
Playing an important part on the team, Kaka helped Brazil to Confederations Cup victories in 2005 and 2009. His goal in the 2005 final helped lead them to a 4-1 victory over Argentina. Against the United States in the 2009 final, he helped Brazil recover from an 0-2 deficit at halftime and led them to a 3-2 victory, also winning the tournament’s Golden Ball award for most outstanding footballer.
Kaka made his international debut for Brazil in 2002 in a friendly against Bolivia. He was a member of the 2002 FIFA World Cup winning squad, although he played less than 30 minutes, all coming in the first round.
While still being a serviceable player, Kaka has failed to live up to lofty expectations at the Bernabeu. A combination of injuries and poor form contributed to a somewhat disappointing stint with Madrid. Final Club Stats: Sao Paulo (2001-2003): 125 appearances, 46 goals AC Milan (2003-2009): 270 appearances, 95 goals, 46 assists Real Madrid (2009-*): 114 appearances, 28 goals, 31 assists *Stats as of 4.1.13
Italy to Spain
Kaka transferred to Real Madrid in 2009 for a then-record £56.1 million, which was beaten shortly thereafter by Madrid when they acquired Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United. Kaka scored 9 goals in 33 appearances in his first season with the Galacticos.
In 2006-2007, Kaka finished as the top scorer in the Champions League campaign with 10 goals and led Milan to the Champions League title where they defeated Liverpool. He was named by UEFA as both the top forward of the UCL campaign, and as the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.
While he was only 19, he was in AC Milan’s starting lineup within a month, debuting in a 2-0 win over Ancona. In his first season, Milan won the Serie A title. He scored a total of 14 goals in his first season with the club.
Transfer to AC Milan
Amongst heavy interest throughout Europe, AC Milan was able to secure his services. After scoring 46 goals in 125 appearances for Sao Paulo, Kaka transferred to the Italian club in 2003 for €8.5 million.
In 2001, Kaka led Sao Paulo FC to their first and only Torneio Rio-Sau Paulo championship. Luis Fabiano was also on the team and both Fabiano and Kaka scored a double during the home and away final vs. Botafago FR.
Kaka began his career with Sao Paulo at the age of 8, signing his first professional contract with Sao Paulo FC at the age of 15. He made his senior side debut on February 1st, 2001.