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Updated on March 23rd 2024, 1:59:03 pm

Kaka at Milan: The final Ballon d'Or winner before Messi-Ronaldo era

This article will be looking at Kaka's time at AC Milan, which saw him establish himself as one of the greatest in the club's history.

Key Takeaways:

  • Kaka, a legendary Brazilian footballer, had an illustrious career with AC Milan, winning numerous accolades.

  • His time at Milan was marked by triumphs, including a Serie A title and two UEFA Champions League trophies.

  • Kaka's impact extended beyond trophies, as he was a key figure in Milan's attacking prowess, earning individual honors such as the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year.

Kaka is one of the finest players ever produced by Brazilian football, and he had a legendary career that had seen him win several major accolades including the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, and Ballon d'Or. He was seen by many to be the final human to win the Ballon d'Or, as Kaka was the final winner before the prestigious individual award was dominated by Messi and Ronaldo for the years to come. During his prime, Kaka was one of the finest midfielders on the planet. His creative passes, dribbles from midfield, and goal scoring ability were all sensational. This article will be looking at Kaka's time at AC Milan, which saw him establish himself as one of the greatest in the club's history.

From São Paulo to Milan

Kaka's brilliant goal scoring abilities at São Paulo saw him get the attention of Europe's elite, and he was eventually signed by AC Milan for €8.5 million. Just a month after joining the club, Kaka was able to get into the starting line up by replacing Rui Costa in the attacking midfield playmaking position. The Brazilian operated behind strikers strikers Jon Dahl Tomasson, Filippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko. He went on to have a successful debut season with the club, scoring 10 goals in 30 appearances. Milan ended up winning the Scudetto and UEFA Super Cup that season. Kaka's performances that season also saw him named as the 2004 Serie A Footballer of the Year.

The heartbreak of Istanbul

The 2004-05 season saw Kaka as the attacking midfielder of a five-man midfield, with Gennaro Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini, and Clarence Seedorf supporting him defensively, while Rui Costa or Andrea Pirlo operating as the deep-lying playmaker.

Milan began that season with by winning the Supercoppa Italiana against Lazio, but ended the league as runners-up with Kaka scoring 7 goals in 36 appearances. It was in the Champions League that Milan played their best, with Kaka being a major part of their success. Milan eventually reached the finals, set to face Liverpool. This is where the famous Miracle of Istanbul Match happened, as Milan blew up a 3 goal lead to Liverpool and eventually lost the match. The season ended in heartbreak for Kaka and Milan.

A sweet revenge

Ac Milan had a disappointing 2005-2006 season, and they did not win any silverware. Kaka however, continued his magnificent form for the Rossoneri. He scored 17 goals in the league that season.

It was the following 2006–07 season that saw Milan back to their dominant winning ways, Kaka was an even bigger part of the team at this time. The sale of Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea meant the Brazilian was now the focal point of Milan's attack, and he had to deliver. While Milan disappointed domestically that season, it was a different story in the Champions League.

Milan's brilliant form in the Champions League that season saw them reach yet another final, against the very same Liverpool that caused them eternal heartbreak. Revenge was finally taken this time, as Milan won 2-1 to be crowned European Champions. Despite being goalless  that much, Kaka played an instrumental role for Milan and was a crucial part of all the goals. He also finished as the top scorer in the 2006–07 Champions League campaign with ten goals.

The golden period and eventual farewell

Further success followed Kaka and Milan, as they began the 2007–08 season by winning the UEFA Super again Sevilla 3–1. On 2nd December, history was made Kaka became the 8th Milan player to win the Ballon d'Or. This was followed by Milan winning the FIFA Club World Cup, beating Boca Juniors 4-2 in the finals. Kaka was also voted the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year at this time, and he was truly on top of the world.

Kaka's remaining time at Milan saw him perform brilliantly as usual, but the club failed to win any silverware. The Brazilian was eventually sold to Real Madrid for €67 million, and was unveiled as a Real Madrid player on 30 June 2009.

The aftermath

Kaka unfortunately could not replicate his magical feats with Milan at Real Madrid, and the transfer ended up as a disappointment. The player made his return to Milan later in 2013 as a free-agent,and scored his 100th goal for the club during this second stint. On 30 June 2014, Kaká had his Milan contract terminated through mutual consent, and that was the end of his second tenure at Milan. The club finally. bid farewell to one of it's greatest ever players.