Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, world renowned as Kaká or Ricardo Kaká, is widely considered one of the best players of his generation. By the time of his appointment in the year 2004, he became the youngest ambassador of the UN World Food Program. Here are some very interesting facts about the Brazilian footballer:
He was born Ricardo lzecson dos Santos Leite, on April 22, 1982, in Gama, Federal District, Brazil. He is the elder of two children to Boscolzecson Pereira Leite, a civil engineer and Simone dos Santos, an elementary school teacher. His brother Rodrigo is also a professional footballer.
His nickname ‘Kaka’ is the result of mispronunciation of his name by his younger brother, Rodrigo who called him ‘caca.’ This in course of time became ‘Kaka.’
At the age of seven on the advice of his Physical Education teacher of Brazilian Baptist College, his mother enrolled him in local youth club called ‘Alphaville,’ Sao Paulo. His talent took him to Sao Paulo F.C, youth academy.
He joined Sao Paulo at eight, signed a contract at 15 and played for its senior side at 19 years. His decisive moment came on March 07, 2001, when he scored two goals in two minutes coming as substitute in the finals of ‘Torneio Rio-Sao Paulo’ against Botafogo, for the title.
He suffered a freak accident at the age of 18, just as he was emerging as a special footballing talent. While relaxing at a swimming pool, he plunged down the waterslide and hit his head on the bottom of the pool. Fearing the worst after injuring his vertebrae, he surprising recovered in a week.
Kaka made his debut for Brazil in the under-20 team for the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, which was held in Argentina. Unfortunately Brazil crashed out in the quarterfinal losing to Ghana. He scored a goal in a 4-0 win against Australia.
On January 31, 2002, he made his national senior team debut in a friendly against Bolivia. Although he was part of 2002 FIFA World Cup team, he saw action only for 25 minutes, mostly in the first round matches.
After distinguishing himself with his power and prowess at Sao Paulo, where he scored 23 goals in 58 appearances, he moved to A.C Milan, the European Champion for €8.5 million in 2003. The club Sao Paulo were reluctant to release him but for the club’s serious financial strife.
Kaka made his club debut on September 01, 2003, in the Serie ‘A’, league against A.C. Ancona. Playing as attacking midfielder, he provided several important assists and scored 10 goals in 30 appearances in his debut season. He was named ‘Serie-A Footballer of the Year 2004.’
He led the national under 23 team to ‘2003 CONCACAF Gold cup’ where they finished runner-up to Mexico. He scored three goals in five games.
As a devote evangelist Christian right from the age of 12, he attributes everything in life to God. He sports message of Jesus on his T shirts and shoes and says open prayer on the field before the game and after scoring a goal.
He ended the 2004-05 season with seven goals in 36 appearances to take Milan as Milan finished runner-up. In the finals of Champions League Final against Liverpool, he displayed great skill and was instrumental in Milan taking lead with perfect assists. He was named ‘2005 UEFA Club Football Best Midfielder.’
Kaka was nominated for the third time in three years for the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2006. He was selected to both ‘UEFA Team of the Year,’ and the ‘FIFPro World XI for the first time in his career.
He made the starting line-up in the match against Croatia at the ‘2006 FIFA World Cup’ in 2006 and scored his first and only goal in the world cup till date. He did not have memorable 2010 World Cup either, when he was sent off in the match against Ivory Coast after receiving a controversial red card.
On February 12, 2007, Kaka was sworn in as an Italian citizen. He featured in the cover of the Italian edition of EA Sports’ FIFA video game FIFA 07, alongside Ronaldinho.
As Milan won the 2007 Champions League Title,Kaka was voted the ‘Vodafone’ Fan’s Player of the Season for his performance, in a poll of over 100,000 UEFA.com visitors. He was also named the top forward in the league and ‘UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.’
On December 02, 2007, he was voted as the World Soccer magazine’s World Player of the Yearand also awarded France Football Magazine’s prestigious 'Ballon d’Or’ with 444 votes. He was the hot favorite for the honor after winning the Champions league and the European Super Cup, though Cristiano Ronaldo dominated the domestic season.
On December 16, 2007, Kaka scored a goal and was instrumental in Filipp Inzaghi scoring two goals in the FIFA Club World Cup, defeating Boca Juniors 4-2. He was awarded the Golden Ball, as the best player of the competition.
On December 17, 2007, Kaka the playmaker added to his array of trophies this season with ‘FIFA World Player of the Year 2007.’ He collected 1,047 votes, more than the combined total of Messi and Ronaldo. He was quoted ‘God gives us more than we ask for and that’s what has happened in my life.’
On June 30, 2009, he signed a six year deal with Real Madrid worth € 67 million. Although he made his unofficial debut for the club on August 07, in a friendly, he made his league debut on August 29, in a 3-2 win over Deportivo de La Coruna.
On August 05, 2010, Kaka underwent surgery on the left knee injury, which kepthim out of action for about eight months. He returned to action as a substitute in the game against Getafe, on January 03, only to be sidelined for about few weeks with Iliotibial band syndrome.
Kaka was involved in one of the counterattacking moves in the match against Ajax in the Champions League on September 27, 2011. He combined with Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, in converting one of the best team build-up into a goal. His performance with a goal and a assist, was chosen the best player of the Champions League Match day.
Within a span of one month, Kaka experienced ecstasy and despair. He became the top Brazilian goal scorer in the Champions League with 28 goals, when he scoreda goal in 49th minute against Ajax on December 04. While on January 12, he was sent off in the game against ‘C.A. Osasuna’ when he was booked twice in space of 18 minutes.
On September 02, 2013, Kaka returned back to A.C. Milan, on a free transfer with only performance related incentives owed to Madrid. His contract was worth € 4 million net per year and was named the vice-captain of the team.
After spending a season with Milan, he joined Orlando City Soccer Club, of MSLfor 2015 season. In the process he became the highest paid player in MSL history, with base salary of US$ 6.6 million per year and $7.2 million per year as guaranty amount.
In July 2014 he was loaned to his former club, Sao Paulo until start of MSL season. He made his comeback in the match against Goias Esporte Clube on July 27, with a goal in a losing cause. He made 24 appearances in the season scoring 3 goals.
Kaka married his childhood sweetheart Caroline Celico on December 23, 2005, at Rebirth in Christ Church in Sao Paulo. They have two children, a son Luca Celico Leite and a daughter Isabella. The couple divorced in 2015. These days he is dating Carolina Dias, a model.
In April 2012, Kaka became the first sportsperson with ten million followers on Twitters and by March 2015, he was the fifth highest social media rank in the world with 33 million Facebook fans.
Since November 2004, he has served as an ‘Ambassador Against Hunger’ for the United Nations’ World Food Program. He is the youngest appointee.
Kaka had the distinction of playing in 654 club games scoring 208 goals. He also represented his country in 92 matches scoring 29 goals playing his last game on October 16, 2012 against Poland.