Kaká, the former Milan and Real Madrid midfielder, announced on Sunday that he is retiring from football. The 35-year-old Brazilian took to Twitter to announce his retirement: “It was much more than I could ever imagined. Thank you!” he said. “I’m now ready for the next journey. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
We now take a look back at the career of the highly-decorated Brazilian, via this interview with FourFourTwo magazine, winning cups, Milan, his family and his faith in Jesus…
When did you know you’d made it as a player?
I signed with Milan [from Sao Paulo as a 21-year-old]. That represented a big achievement for me. Players in Brazil dream about coming to Europe and signing with a big club and Milan are one of the best, so I was very happy. When I joined I was just a boy; a ‘Golden Boy’, as I was deemed at the time. Now I am a veteran!
Your happiest moment?
Brazil won the World Cup in 2002. I was young and only played part of one match, but it was a chance to be part of a great team – Ronaldo was the best player in the world at the time.
In general, I am happy after every big victory, like winning the Confederations Cup with Brazil or the Champions League with Milan, but winning the World Cup is the ultimate and as a Brazilian, it’s the biggest thing you can achieve. It’s a pressure every Brazilian player has to endure.
Your saddest day in football?
Was the 2005 Champions League final against Liverpool. When you go 3-0 up you should win the game. It should never have gone to penalties. It really was not meant to be for us that night.
What’s that thing you’ve never told anyone before?
I always find it an emotional experience to play in Milan. I was a part of the history of that club. The fans are incredible and always showed me a lot of love. I am still friends with players on the team and I still follow them every weekend.
Who were your heroes growing up?
My parents. They worked very hard throughout their lives so that I would get a good education and grow up in a happy home. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
What’s your proudest moment?
When my former manager Carlo Ancelotti compared me to Michel Platini. That was the biggest compliment anyone has ever given me – Platini was one of the greatest midfielders ever. To be compared to him meant a lot to me.
If you could have changed one thing about the game?
It would be the way the 2006 World Cup ended for Brazil! We had a strong team but we were unable to win when we needed to most, against France. That hurt us. I think a Brazil-Italy final would have been grand!
For you, football is…?
A game that brings joy to many people. Football allows me to be a role model, and I’ve been able to help many people through it.
Three words that sum you up…
Loyal, hard-working and dedicated. These qualities are essential if you want to succeed in football and in life in general. Football is a team game; you have to work with others every day, in training and during games, so it’s important to show the best of yourself.
If you hadn’t played football, what would you have been?
An evangelical pastor. I have always been very religious. That is why I wear my ‘I belong to Jesus’ shirt during games and why I point to the sky after scoring a goal. It is my way of showing everyone where my heart is.
The item you cherish most…?
Its my family. My wife and children are the most important people in my life.
If you could have one wish…?
Actually, it would have to be two! I wish I’d won the Champions League with Real Madrid and the World Cup at the Maracana. To win the World Cup at home is the dream of every Brazilian.