Former AC Milan and Brazil star Kaka announces retirement
Former AC Milan and Brazil star Kaka has announced his retirement from professional football.
Kaka revealed his intention to leave Orlando City when his contract expired this month, and the 35-year-old has opted against continuing his career elsewhere.
His decision comes 10 years to the day since he won the Ballon d'Or, having helped Milan to Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup glory in 2007.
"My final word is that the cycle of my career as a professional player ends here," Kaka said in an interview with TV Globo.
"I needed time to think and make a very calm decision, very calm and very conscious of what I would like to do with my professional life.
"Now I'm going to prepare to continue in football and have another function, but I'm not going to be a professional player, an athlete.
"I would like to be part of a club in a different form – a manager, a sporting director, someone who operates between the pitch and the club."
Father,— Kaka (@KAKA) December 17, 2017
It was much more than I could ever imagined. Thank you! I’m now ready for the next journey. In Jesus name. Amem.
Foi muito mais do que eu pedi ou imaginei!Obrigado! Eis-me aqui para próxima jornada. Em nome de Jesus. Amém. pic.twitter.com/PofZBAV0BE
Kaka began his career at Sao Paulo in 2001 and was part of Brazil's World Cup-winning squad under Luiz Felipe Scolari a year later in Japan and South Korea.
After three seasons in Sao Paulo's first team he was snapped up Milan in 2003, joining a team that included the likes of Cafu, Paolo Maldini, Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo.
The languid playmaker, whose electric speed and frequent direct running were particular highlights of his enthralling style, quickly became a favourite of the Rossoneri faithful, helping them to the Serie A title in his maiden season in Italy and going on to score 101 goals in 287 appearances across two spells with the club.
European giants Real Madrid shelled out a world-record €68million to prise him away from San Siro in 2009, though the fee to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to the Santiago Bernabeu rapidly surpassed his price-tag.
Kaka failed to replicate his best form in Madrid as he struggled with a serious knee injury and he returned to Milan in 2013.
The attacking midfielder's second period with the Rossoneri last one campaign before he headed to MLS and Orlando via a loan spell at boyhood club Sao Paulo.
Kaka made 92 appearances in total for Brazil, adding two Confederations Cup titles to the 2002 World Cup triumph.
He last featured for the Selecao in a 2-0 friendly victory over Panama in May 2016 and was included in Dunga's squad for the Copa America Centenario, but he was forced to withdraw due to a hamstring injury.
Following three seasons at club level in the United States, Kaka opted against continuing his career with Milan or Sao Paulo, as his training to become a sporting director begins.