A blast from the past: Ricardo Kaka
The football world has witnessed a plethora of extraordinary talents over time. These players outlast their retirements as they're a part of fans' chants and always remain special. One such star is Ricardo Kaka. The Brazillian was a generational talent and recognized as one of the best midfielders of his time. Kaka, the name takes you back to the 2000s where he burst through the core of opposition formations. He was a magician and a central figure in AC Milan's dream team that frightened the entirety of Europe.
The beginning of greatness.
Kaka was a part of the Brazillian side Sao Paulo for the first three years of his career. He was their academy graduate and displayed prodigal abilities during his time at the youth squad. Unlike most Brazillian footballers who are gifted with flair and forte, Kaka exhibited expertise in passing and had an exceptional vision.
Furthermore, he was quick as a lightning bolt and could also carve his way through opposition defenses. It was only a matter of time before European teams came calling. Hence, he joined AC Milan in 2003 for a reported fee of 8.5M Euros.
The 2006-07 season: Kaka's prime
Kaka's time at Milan coincided with controversy due to the infamous Calciopoli scandal. Even though the Rossoneri suffered a less severe blow when compared to Juventus, they had to face an eight-point deduction in the 2006-07 season that dragged them back in the domestic competition. However, that was the year when Kaka reached his peak.
It is impossible to display the quality that Kaka showed during his prime. He was unstoppable and was quintessential in helping AC Milan win the UEFA Champions League that year, finishing as the top-scorer of the competition.
His match-winning performances resulted in him winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2007. He was the last player to win the award before a decade of domination between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Move to Real Madrid: The fall of the Brazillian genius
In June 2009, Kaka joined Spanish giants Real Madrid for a fee of 67M Euros. The Los Blancos had high expectations for him and hoped for consistent performances to compete with Barcelona. However, things turned for the worse. In August of 2010, Kaka suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for eight months.
Despite then-manager Jose Mourinho backing Kaka to return with all guns blazing, he wasn't able to stay fit. He suffered yet another knee injury. Although he was determined to succeed at Madrid, his recurring injuries consistently dragged him back.
Kaka's time at Real Madrid was a disaster, he fell out of Mourinho's plans and had to sit out on several occasions because of his unreliable fitness. Kaka left Real Madrid and returned to AC Milan for his second stint as a player. He scored made 120 appearances across four years at Madrid and scored 29 goals.
He spent the rest of his career at Orlando City after a season at AC Milan.
In December 2017, Kaka announced his retirement. He had an illustrious career that went downhill due to injuries. Despite all the suffering, he never complained or blamed anyone. He was a modest man who was happy with everything he had achieved as a player.
Kaka is a role model for several youngsters. The technique he displayed during his prime is impossible to emulate. He is a legend who deserved to reach greater heights but was consumed by injuries. Fans still ponder what he could have achieved if he managed to maintain his fitness. His story might have gone downhill, but he will always remain as one of the greatest midfielders to grace the field.