Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite - born 22 April 1982), commonly known as KakÃ¡, is a Brazilian football midfielder who currently plays for Real Madrid C.F. and the Brazilian national team. He started his footballing career at the age of eight, when he began playing for a local club. By then, he also played tennis, and it was not until he moved on to SÃ£o Paulo FC and signed his first professional contract with the club at the age of fifteen that he chose to focus on football. In he joined A.C. Milan for a fee of â‚¬8.5 million. While at Milan, KakÃ¡ won the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 2007. In addition to his contributions on the pitch, KakÃ¡ is known for his humanitarian work. In 2004, by the time of his appointment, he became the youngest ambassador of the United Nations' World Food Programme.
KakÃ¡ began his career with SÃ£o Paulo at the age of eight. He signed a contract at fifteen and led the SÃ£o Paulo youth squad to Copa de Juvenil glory. He made his senior side debut in January 2001 and scored 12 goals in 27 appearances, in addition to leading SÃ£o Paulo to its first and only Torneio Rio-SÃ£o Paulo championship, in which he scored two goals in two minutes as a substitute against Botafogo in the final, which SÃ£o Paulo won 2â€“1.
He scored 10 goals in 22 matches the following season, and by this time his performance was soon attracting attention from European clubs. KakÃ¡ made a total of 58 appearances for SÃ£o Paulo, scoring 23 times.
The steady European interest in KakÃ¡ culminated in his signing with Italian club AC Milan in 2003 for a fee of â‚¬8.5 million, described in retrospect as "peanuts" by club owner Silvio Berlusconi. Within a month, he cracked the starting lineup, and his Serie A debut was in a 2â€“0 win over Ancona. He scored 10 goals in 30 appearances that season, as Milan won the Scudetto and the UEFA Super Cup.
KakÃ¡ was a part of the five-man midfield in the 2004â€“05 season, usually playing in a withdrawn role behind striker Andriy Shevchenko. He scored seven goals in 36 domestic appearances as Milan finished runner-up in the Scudetto race. Despite Milan losing the 2004â€“05 Champions League final to Liverpool on penalties, he was nonetheless was voted the best midfielder of the tournament.
2005â€“06 saw KakÃ¡ score his first hat-tricks in domestic competition. On 9 April 2006, he scored his first Rossoneri hat-trick against Chievo; all three goals were scored in the second half. The following season, he scored his first Champions League hat-trick in a 4â€“1 group stage win over the Belgian side Anderlecht.
Andriy Shevchenko's departure to Chelsea for the 2006â€“07 season allowed KakÃ¡ to become the focal point of Milan's offense as he alternated between the midfield and striker positions. He finished as the top scorer in the 2006â€“07 Champions League campaign with ten goals. One of them helped the Rossoneri eliminate Celtic in the quarter-finals on a 1â€“0 aggregate, and three others proved fatal for Manchester United in the semi-finals, despite Milan losing the first leg.
KakÃ¡ added the Champions League title to his trophy case for the first time when Milan defeated Liverpool on 23 May 2007. Though he went scoreless, he won a free kick that led to the first of Filippo Inzaghi's two goals, and provided the assist for the second. For his stellar play throughout the competition, he was voted the Vodafone Fans' Player of the Season in a poll of over 100,000 UEFA.com visitors. On 30 August, KakÃ¡ was named by UEFA as both the top forward of the 2006â€“07 Champions League season and UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.
He played his 200th career match with Milan in a 1â€“1 home draw with Catania on 30 September, and on 5 October, he was named the 2006â€“07 FIFPro World Player of the Year. On 2 December 2007, KakÃ¡ became the eighth Milan player to win the Ballon d'Or, as he finished with a decisive 444 votes, long ahead of runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo. He signed a contract extension through 2013 with Milan on February 29, 2008.
Due to his contributions on and off the pitch, Time magazine named KakÃ¡ in the Time 100, a list of the world's 100 most influential people, on 2 May. On 14 October, he cast his footprints into the EstÃ¡dio do MaracanÃ£'s sidewalk of fame, in a section dedicated to the memory of the country's top players. He won the honor again in 2009.
The BBC reported on 13 January 2009 that Manchester City made a bid for KakÃ¡ for over Â£100 million. Milan director Umberto Gandini replied that Milan would only discuss the matter if KakÃ¡ and Manchester City agreed to personal terms. KakÃ¡ initially responded by telling reporters he wanted to "grow old" at Milan and dreamed of captaining the club one day, but later said, "If Milan want to sell me, Iâ€™ll sit down and talk. I can say that as long as the club donâ€™t want to sell me, I'll definitely stay." On 19 January, Silvio Berlusconi announced that Manchester City had officially ended their bid after a discussion between the clubs, and that KakÃ¡ would remain with Milan. Milan supporters had protested outside the club headquarters earlier that evening, and later chanted outside KakÃ¡'s home, where he saluted them by flashing his jersey outside a window.
On 3 June 2009, Football Italia reported that newly-elected Real Madrid president Florentino PÃ©rez had offered Milan a â‚¤68.5 million deal for KakÃ¡, two days after the player had left for international duty with Brazil. Milan vice president Adriano Galliani did not deny the reports, and confirmed that he and KakÃ¡'s father, Bosco Leite, had traveled to Mexico to meet with La Volpe. "We had lunch and spoke about KakÃ¡. I don't deny it. Negotiations exist, but a deal has yet to be done." On 4 June, Galliani told Gazzetta dello Sport that financial reasons were his motive for the talks with La Volpe. "We cannot allow [Milan] to lose â‚¬70 million [...] The reasons behind KakÃ¡'s departure would be economic." On 8 June, Milan and Real Madrid confirmed KakÃ¡ has moved to the BernabÃ©u on a six-year deal.
KakÃ¡ made his unofficial debut in a friendly against Toronto FC, and scored his first goal for Madrid during a preseason match against Borussia Dortmund, which Madrid won 5-0. He scored his first official goal for Real Madrid on week 5 against Villareal from a penalty kick.
KakÃ¡ with Brazil
KakÃ¡ was called up for the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, but the Brazilians crashed out to Ghana in the quarter-finals. Several months later, he made his debut for the senior Brazil squad in a friendly match against Bolivia on 31 January 2002. He was part of the 2002 FIFA World Cup-winning squad, but played only 25 minutes, all of which were in the first round match against Costa Rica.
In 2003, KakÃ¡ was the captain for the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, where Brazil, competing as with their under-23 team, finished as runner-up to Mexico. He scored three goals during the tournament. He was included in Brazil's squad for 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup in Germany. He appeared in all five matches and scored one goal in a 4â€“1 win over Argentina in the final.
KakÃ¡ started in his first FIFA World Cup finals in 2006 and scored his first and only goal of the tournament in Brazil's 1â€“0 victory over Croatia in Brazil's opener, for which he was named Man of the Match. He was unable to keep up the momentum for the remainder of the tournament, as Brazil was eliminated by France in the quarter-finals. In a friendly against rivals Argentina on 3 September 2006, after entering as a substitute, he received the ball off a deflection from an Argentina corner kick and outran Lionel Messi while taking the ball down three quarters of the field to score.
On 12 May 2007, citing an exhaustive schedule of Serie A, Champions League, and national team play, KakÃ¡ bowed out of the 2007 Copa AmÃ©rica, which Brazil won. After missing out on the Copa AmÃ©rica, he returned to play in Brazil's friendly match against Algeria on 22 August 2007.
KakÃ¡ participated in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, marking his first international tournament since the 2006 World Cup. His only two goals came in Brazil's group stage opener against Egypt on 14 June, when he scored a goal in the fifth minute and then added a 90th-minute penalty in Brazil's 4â€“3 victory. He received the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament at the Confederations Cup and was also named the Man of the Match in the final after helping Brazil to a 3-2 win against the United States.