Kaká was born on April 22, 1982, in Brasilia, Brazil. He made his professional debut with São Paulo's senior team. He aided his team in taking home the Torneio Rio-Sao Paulo title in 2001. In 2002 his team also took home the World Cup title. In 2003, the midfielder left his home country for a new team and a new contract in Milan, Italy. In 2009, Milan handed Kaká over to the Real Madrid club.
Professional soccer player. Born Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite on April 22, 1982, in Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil. A top-level player soccer player throughout his youth, Kaká began his move toward the professional ranks at the age of 15, when he signed to the São Paulo youth club. His bright career was brought to a halt only three years later, when a swimming pool accident fractured a vertebrae in his neck. The incident could have paralyzed the athlete, but Kaká fully healed. Crediting God for his miraculous recovery, the budding star began leading an actively Christian life, engaging in daily prayer; tithing a portion of his income to the church; refusing to swear; and remaining chaste until his marriage to childhood sweetheart Caroline Celico in 2005.
Outstanding Rookie Year
A year after the injury, Kaká made his professional debut with São Paulo's senior team in dramatic fashion. In the closing minutes of a tight game he scored two times, sealing a win for his club. The performance proved to be the start of a successful rookie year that would see him score 12 times in just 27 games. He also aided his team in taking home the Torneio Rio-Sao Paulo title in 2001 - the only time the team has won the championship to date. In 2002, while seeing limited action, his team also took home the World Cup title.
Accolades at Milan
In 2003, the midfielder left his home country for a new team and a new contract in Milan, Italy. For Milan, the transfer had cost $10 million, a sum that the club's owner labeled as "peanuts" compared to the talent he was getting. It didn't take long for Kaká to live up to his pricetag. Over the next several seasons, Kaká assembled a player résumé like no other. His accolades included The Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year title in 2004 and 2006, as well as recognition as the Champions League Best Midfielder in 2005.
But his finest season to date came in 2007, when Kaká became the league's top scorer, and led his team to Champions League and Club World Cup titles. In addition, he was named the European Footballer of the Year, World Soccer Player of the year, FIFA World Cup Best Player, and FIFA World Player of the Year.
For much of his time in Milan, rumors circulated that he may leave for another team. In January 2009, talks heated up between Milan and Manchester City about a proposed $145 million transfer that would see Kaká move north to England. Negotiations eventually came undone, but not the rumors about the player's departure. Five months later, the Milan team - a club that was deeply in debt - handed Kaká over to the Real Madrid club in Spain for a $78 million, six-year contract. "Now the soap opera is over," Kaká told reporters.
For Kaká, the change meant a new team and a new contract, but not a new life. In a sport that has its share of glitz and glamour, the playmaker has been unafraid to voice his Christian faith. "Cars and women, things like that, have never been important to me," said the player. "My family, and my belief in God and Jesus are the things which determine my life. I do want to live my life in the right way, and live my life close to God." The player has tried to back up his words with action.
In 2004, he became the U.N. World Food Program's youngest ambassador, a recognition that has seen the soccer star support programs that try to address world hunger. In 2008, for example, he helped the organization launch "Fill the Cup", an ambitious relief effort that works to get food to the estimated 59 million children in developing countries.
In 2008, Kaká celebrated a different milestone when his wife gave birth to a baby boy, Luca Celico Leite. The couple resides in Madrid, Spain.
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