Ricardo Kaka, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and FIFA's World Player of the Year in 2007, announced his retirement from the game on Sunday.
"I needed time to think and take a very calm decision, very calm and very aware of what I will want for my professional life," said the 35-year-old Brazilian, speaking to Globo Esporte. "I went to Europe to watch some games, to feel the emotion of the game there, where football really has its highest point. And very aware, I came to a conclusion that it's time to end my career as a professional footballer."
The Brazilian left MLS in October, parting ways with Orlando City and there was much speculation on what he would do next. Reports circulated around two specific offers: a return to his first love Sao Paolo for a one-year contract and another non-playing role as club director at AC Milan. Upon these news, it seems more likely he will join Milan, and take his first steps towards a management career.
"To do it like [Zinedine] Zidane is a good idea," Kaka said to Globo back in October, when discussing his plans for the future. "He stopped, took some time away, decided if it was something he actually enjoyed, studied, did a course, built his way up. I'm that way inclined too. Now, there are people who believe I am already ready."
Kaka moved to Milan from Sao Paolo in 2003 as a teenager, a year after winning the World Cup with Brazil against Germany in Japan.
In his first spell with the Rossoneri, Kaka won the Scudetto in his debut season and the Champions League and FIFA World Player of the Year in 2007. Two years later, he moved to Real Madrid and despite the fact his time with the Spanish giants wasn't as successful due to injury setbacks, he was able to win several trophies such as La Liga title in 2011-2012 and the Copa del Rey a year prior.
He was also a member of Brazil's 2010 World Cup squad, where he ended the tournament with three assists despite not scoring.
After returning to Milan in 2013 for one season, his move to Orlando City made him into the highest-paid player in MLS history, with a base salary of $6.6 million per year.
On the pitch, Kaka was a magician. As a dribbler, he was able to overcome almost any challenge with a unique sense of speed and precision but what made him so mesmerizing was his uncanny ability to find teammates thanks to his unrivaled vision. Kaka was, by nature, an attacking midfielder but due to his versatility he could be placed anywhere in the midfield. His goal in 2007 against Manchester United in the Champions League is a perfect example of all these attributes:
After an illustrious career, the world says good bye to one of the greatest players the world of football has ever seen.