In Praise of Ricardo Kaká
How do you define Greatness in Football? Is it all about the numbers that a player can churn out? Goals, Assists, Dribbles and Passes completed? Or maybe it's about trophies such as the Champions League or the Domestic League titles. Or personal accolades such as the Ballon d'Or?
For me, a player becomes 'Great' when he gives the crowd something to talk about for the better part of the upcoming day, or week, or longer maybe. And no we're not talking about incidents like Luis Suarez and Chiellini. I'm talking about a sublime 50-yard diagonal pass, or maybe a backheel on the edge of the penalty box. Maybe a thunderbolt from 35 yards out, or a clinical finish from inside the area. And dribbles, how can I leave that out? Who doesn't like to see a player gliding across the field with the ball at his feet, ghosting past defenders? And yes, a player's greatness can be subjective if you consider this definition. True that!
Kaká was someone I grew up watching, and idolising. His marauding runs from the centre of the field were second to none when he was in his prime. The speed, the control and the sheer terror projected by the Brazilian were enough to wreak havoc among the finest of backlines.
One such example is the Goal against Manchester United in the 2007 Champions League Semi-final at Old Trafford. The goal that must have made Sir Alex Ferguson ponder about the personnel guarding the United Penalty area. With one devastating run, the man from San Siro ridiculed the entire United defence and scored one of the most scintillating goals of all time.
I bet anybody who saw that game has the goal perfectly etched in memory. How do you compare this, to numbers and statistics?
Then came the sublime incisive passes, and the pinpoint crossing ability possessed by the attacking midfielder from Sao Paulo was simply astonishing. It looked like he could see gaps in the defence with a sheer glance and then send the ball across the field along an imaginary line only he saw.
Kaká also had the ability to perfectly gauge the position where an attacking player from his side would be after a few seconds which helped him deliver crosses that landed right on the attacker's head. The video below rightly marks the last through-ball as the 'Greatest through-ball ever'
On top of this, his demeanour off the pitch was simply too humble for a footballer of his stature. And even with his rapid decline as a footballer during his time at Real Madrid due to recurring injuries and a Not-So-Supportive Mourinho, he had a certain grace when on the field that not many can replicate to this day.
I don't know if this was enough to satiate the mind of a fan of Kaká, the last man to have won the Ballon d'Or before the unending duopoly of Ronaldo and Messi, but I can certainly say that I've had a wonderful time writing this small piece in praise of the Great, Ricardo Kaká.