Before the Ronaldo-Messi era, The world of football was spoiled by the action of Brazilian talent, Ricardo Kaka. Kaka who shined with AC Milan was the best player at that time.
The player with the full name Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite always holds a place in the hearts of AC Milan supporters for everything he has ever accomplished while wearing a red-black costume.
Kaka strengthened AC Milan since 2003 when he was a young star from Sao Paolo. In his six seasons traveling in Italy, Kaka has contributed a lot to AC Milan, he brought the Rossoneri reaching the 2004 Scudetto, a Champions League trophy, and an inter-club world cup.
Kaka often becomes the focus of attack by coach Ancelotti. This Brazilian player will usually operate in several roles to have the greatest possible influence in a match whether as a midfielder, playmaker or the second striker behind Filipo Inzaghi as the main striker.
At his best, nothing could stop Kaka. Kaka is often touted as the last human being to win the Ballon d’Or until then the award was dominated by two humans from other planets, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Even for some people, Kaka is the greatest footballer they have ever seen. Kaka’s best season occurred in 2006/07. While the Calciopoli case still became the hot topic, the player who was so obedient to God successfully became an important player for the success of AC Milan in winning the seventh Champions League title in their history.
There are so many moments he made to bring AC Milan holding the big ear trophy after beating Liverpool in the final. That might be one of the most special and perhaps most memorable moments occurred in the semifinals.
Among the number of matches that Kaka has done, his appearance against Manchester United made him worthy to be labeled the best player of the year.
That day, April 24, 2007, AC Milan traveled to the Old Trafford Stadium, the headquarters of a strong club that was trained by Sir Alex Ferguson and inhabited by young stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney, in the first league of the champions league semi-final.
Many people put their hope on the Red Devils in the match. That was because Man United came to the semifinals after a landslide victory over another Italian team, AS Roma. On the other hand, AC Milan can qualify for the semifinals after struggling to defeat the German giant team, Bayern Munich.
Man United successfully opened the scoring through Cristiano Ronaldo at the beginning of the match. This advantage made them continuously pounding AC Milan’s defense which was commanded by Paolo Maldini.
Too busy attacking, the Red Devils unconsciously forget about their defense. They did not realize there was danger lurking. This condition was then used by Kaka to show his magic. Within 15 minutes, Kaka managed to make AC Milan turning things around.
The first goal was created in the 22nd minute. Clarence Seedorf gave the ball to Kaká who quickly passing Gabriel Heinze, he carried the ball calmly on the edge of the penalty box and finished his run with a cold end through his left foot, as then the ball failed to reach Van Der Sar.
The second goal was even more spectacular. Exploiting a wild ball that rolled on the right side of Man United’s defense, Kaka won a body fight with Darren Fletcher. Not ending up there, Kaka then deceived Heinze and Evra so that the two collided.
This individual action was completed sweetly by this player with the jersey number 22 through the right leg kick which tore the net of van der Sar. “Completely magical,” according to Clyve Tyldesley, the match commentator at the time.
Despite the final result for Man United’s 3-2 victory, Kaka’s ingenuity and brilliance had caused chaos at the Old Trafford stadium.
Despite losing in the First round, Kaka and his friends managed to get back at the San Siro. In the second round match, Kaka once again became a star by scoring one of the three AC Milan victory goals that led the Rossoneri to the final.
In the final match, Kaka contributed an assistant to Filippo Inzaghi who led them to beat Liverpool 2-1. At the end of the tournament, besides the Champions League title, Kaka also won the top scorer title with a total of 10 goals. He also created a total of 5 assists.
Kaka’s performance was very impressive. Two phenomenal goals become moments that will always be remembered by Man United fans. Kaka might not get the standing applause like his other Brazilian senior players, Ronaldo Nazario. But Kaka’s superiority that night would always be remembered.
At the end of 2007, Kaka brought AC Milan to win the world cup trophy inter-clubs. For his great performance, he was later awarded the Balloon D’or and FIFA World Player of the Year.
After Kaka moved to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009, Andrea Pirlo acknowledged the greatness of this Brazilian player. “For two or three years, he was the best player in the world,” (Quoted from TheseFootballthemes)
“There is a point where the team doesn’t know how to stop him.”
Pirlo recreated what he showed in the 2006/07 Champions League semi-final. We know that the friendly Pirlo was never excessive in speaking and due to this experience, Manchester United learned to face difficult challenges.