Ricardo zecson dos Santos Leite, who was commonly known as Kaká or Ricardo Kaká, was a professional attacking midfielder who played for the Brazil national team and was one of the greatest midfielders of his time.
Known for his dynamic and skilful play, he also had excellent vision and tremendous speed with which he could run past defenders with the ball starting almost from the middle of the pitch.
Moreover his ball control and balance, his defence-splitting passes and his ability to create chances for his teammates made him a dangerous player during counter attacking play.
Ricardo Kaká Biography
Kaká was born in Gama, Federal District in Brazil on 22 April 1982. His father Bosco Izecson Pereira Leite was a civil engineer. While his mother Simone dos Santos was an elementary school teacher.
Due to his childhood being financially secured, he was allowed to focus on his studies and playing football at the same time.
Kaká in his youth
Kaká had a younger brother named Rodrigo, who was popularly known as Digão, and his cousin Eduardo Delani also played professional football.
Digão could not pronounce “Ricardo” when he was young. As a result he used to call his brother “Caca” which eventually later evolved into Kaká.
Kaká had a swimming pool accident when he was just 18 years old, as he suffered from a possibly paralysis-inducing spinal fracture, which threatened his career.
Later Kaká made a full recovery and he thanked God for his revival. Since then he started donating one-tenth of his total income to his church.
On 23 December 2005 at a Rebirth in Christ church in São Paulo, Kaká married his childhood love Caroline Celico. The marriage however lasted for 10 years and in 2015, they announced their divorce through social media.
The couple has a son named Luca Celico Leite, who was born on 10 June 2008, and a daughter named Isabella, who was born on 23 April 2011.
Kaká with wife and kids
Ricardo Kaká’s club career
At the age of eight Kaká signed for São Paulo and later made his senior debut for the club on 1 February 2001, and scored 12 goals in 27 appearances in the first season.
He also helped the club to win the first and only Torneio Rio-São Paulo championship. He played the next season and scored 10 goals in 22 matches and by this time has garnered enough attention from European clubs.
Kaká at São Paulo
Kaká reached the zenith of his career while playing for A.C. Milan. He was transferred to the Italian club from São Paulo in 2003 for a fee of €8.5 million.
He replaced Rui Costa and started playing the attacking midfield position behind strikers Jon Dahl Tomasson, Filippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko.
Having played in 30 matches he scored 10 goals and had many assists as he helped Milan to win the Scudetto and the UEFA Super Cup and finished as runners-up in the Intercontinental Cup and the 2003 Supercoppa Italiana.
That year Kaká became the Serie A Footballer of the Year and got nominated for Ballon d’Or (15th place) and FIFA World Player of the Year awards (9th).
Kaká at Milan
In the 2004-05 season Kaká played in the role of withdrawn striker and was supported by Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf and Massimo Ambrosini defensively. Kaká was the attacking midfirlder of the team while Rui Costa or Andrea Pirlo became the deep-lying playmaker.
Milan won the Supercoppa Italiana and finished as runners-up in the Scudetto and also reached the finals of the Champions League.
In the finals, Kaká was the main reason why Milan by 3-0 goals in the first half. Liverpool scored three goals in six minutes and staged a comeback, eventually winning the match 3-2 on penalties. The match was dubbed as “Miracle of Istanbul”.
Kaká won the 2005 UEFA Club Football Best Midfielder and was once again nominated for Ballon d’Or (9th place) and FIFA World Player of the Year awards (8th).
In 2005-06, Milan did not have a good season but Kaká was once again nominated for Ballon d’Or (11th place) and FIFA World Player of the Year awards (7th) for the third consecutive year.
In 2006-07 season Kaká became the focal point of Milan as Andriy Shevchenko departed to Chelsea and he helped his club to win the Champions League defeating Liverpool on 23 May 2007, as they avenged the previous loss.
Kaká with Champions League trophy
Kaká was named the top player of UEFA Champions League and also became the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year. He was also voted the 2007 IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker.
The 2007-08 season became the best year for Kaká as his team won the UEFA Super Cup and Kaká became the eighth Milan player to win the Ballon d’Or with a decisive 444 votes which was well ahead of runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kaká with Ballon d’Or trophy
Kaká won the FIFA Club World Cup with Milan on 16 December defeating Boca Juniors and was awarded the Golden Ball for his performances. He was later voted with 1,047 votes as the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year, leaving behind Lionel Messi with 504 votes and Cristiano Ronaldo with 426 votes.
Kaká moved to the Santiago Bernabéu on 8 June 2009 for a fee of €67 million and scored eight goals and provided six assists in the augural season as Madrid finished as runners-up in the La Liga.
Kaká’s second season was marred with injuries and the team only won the Copa del Rey and finished as runners-up in both La Liga and the Supercopa de España.
Kaká at Real Madrid
Kaká experienced the best Real Madrid season in 2011-12 as he scored five goals and provide nine assists as Madrid won the La Liga with a record 100 points.
Kaká expressed his desire to leave the Los Blancos on 29 August 2013, having played 120 games and scored 29 goals and also provided 32 assists.
Kaká with Cristiano Ronaldo
Return to Milan
Kaká joined his previous club on 2 September 2013 on a free transfer and was nominated as the vice-captain of the team. He later captained the Milan side on his debut.
Kaká scored his 100th Milan goal against Atalanta on 7 January 2014. Kaká played his 300th match for Milan on 29 March 2014 against Chievo, where he scored two goals in a 3-0 win.
Kaká with Ronaldinho, Beckham and Inzaghi
Kaká became the first Designated Player for future MLS franchise Orlando City and was signed with a huge base salary of US$6.6 million per year, and with a guaranteed compensation of $7.2 million per year.
He was the highest paid player in MLS history and has featured in 75 matches in his three seasons with Orlando and has scored 24 goals and provided 22 assists.
Kaká at Orlando City
Kaká’s International Career
Kaká made his senior national team debut on 31 January 2002 against Bolivia. He was also a part of 2002 World Cup, winning the prized tournament along with his side, but had featured for only 25 minutes in a first round match against Costa Rica.
Kaká was announced the captain in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where he led a under-23 team and finished as runners-up to Mexico.
Kaká with FIFA World Cup
Kaká was also part of the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup winning team where he scored one goal in the final in a 4-1 win against Argentina.
Kaká received the Golden Ball as Player of the Tournament in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup as he helped his team to win 3-2 in the final against United States.
Kaká last played for his international team on 30 May 2016, where he appeared as an 80th-minute substitute in a pre-Copa America friendly warm-up match against Panama, which Brazil won 2-0.
Kaká turned down offers from his former clubs São Paulo and Milan and later announced his retirement from club football on 17 December 2017. He however expressed his interest to work as a director for Milan.
Kaká Net Worth
Kaká has been linked to big giants like Milan and Real Madrid and has signed many multi-million contracts. Moreover he has done many endorsement deals with world-famous brands like Giorgio Armani, Adidas and Guarana.
It is estimated that Kaká has a net worth of approximately US$ 105 million.