Role model Kaka a fitting Ballon d'Or winner
Not especially quick and dribbling skills as Ronaldo or the same box of tricks as Ronaldinho, Kaka is simply a more effective all-round player than anyone else.india Updated: Dec 02, 2007 19:01 IST
Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite - better known as Kaka - had long been the outstanding front-runner for the Ballon d'Or, one of the most prestigious awards in football.
Few could contest the fact that over the last year, the Brazilian attacking midfielder has been the stand-out player across the globe.
It was back in April that he virtually assured he would walk off with the Ballon d'Or - formerly known in English as the European Player of the Year award before it was this year opened up to the world - after a virtuoso display in the Champions League semi-final first leg at Old Trafford.
Kaka twice bedazzled the Manchester United defence and although his AC Milan team eventually went down 3-2 in a thrilling contest, his two strikes proved crucial when the Italians won the second leg 3-0 at home to progress to the final.
Until those two matches, there were two contenders for the unofficial title of world's best player, with United's Cristiano Ronaldo sharing column inches and gushing praise with Kaka.
But over those two matches, Kaka proved he was the finished article to Ronaldo's advanced work-in-progress.
Since then the Brazilian has simply re-confirmed over and again his status as the successor to Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro.
At 25 years old, he has already won all there is to win, individually and collectively.
He was part of the Brazil squad that won the 2002 World Cup, although his contribution to that success was limited to just 19 minutes as a substitute against Costa Rica, and he won the Champions League with Milan last season, also finishing as the tournament's top goal-scorer.
He won the Italian domestic title in his first season at Milan having joined from Brazilians Sao Paulo for $ 4.5, a sum that Milan president Silvio Berlusconi then described as peanuts.
Kaka is the complete player. Not especially quick and certainly not with the same dribbling skills as Ronaldo or the same box of tricks as Ronaldinho, Kaka is simply a more effective all-round player than anyone else.
Although not lightning quick, his acceleration is astonishing and allows him to ghost past players and into space. He doesn't need to do three step-overs to beat a man, he simply drops his shoulder and bursts clear.
He has a fabulous range of passing, he is technically faultless, big, strong and even good in the air.
What also sets him apart are his spiritual beliefs. Kaka's goal celebration is as reknown as Alan Shearer's once was. After every strike he raises his hands to the sky, looks up and thanks God.
Kaka is a devout evangelical Christian and proudly boasts that he was a virgin until marrying his wife Caroline. The couple got engaged in 2002 but were not married until December 2005.
It is clear that God comes first in Kaka's life. He is a member of the 'Athletes of Christ' organisation and following Milan's Champions League triumph last May, he took off his shirt to reveal a T-shirt emblazzoned with the words - I belong to Christ.
And while some of his peers, particularly Brazil team-mates, display the excesses of making the most of their fame and fortune, Kaka leads an exemplary lifestyle.
He could never be accused of gaining weight like the Brazil triker Ronaldo, or of partying inappropriately like Ronaldinho, or seeking paparazzi attention such as David Beckham.
Kaka lists gospel music as his favourte type of music and the Bible as his favourite book.