Brazilian football legend Kaka retires


Rio de Janeiro, Dec 18: Brazil legend Kaka, a 2002 FIFA World Cup winner, has announced his retirement from football at the age of 35, more than two months after playing his last match for Orlando City.

The former AC Milan and Real Madrid attacking midfielder on Sunday revealed his decision on social media, reports Xinhua news agency.

"It was much more than I could have ever imagined," Kaka wrote. "Thank you! I'm now ready for the next journey."

Capped 95 times for his country, Kaka was a part of the Brazil squad that won the 2002 World Cup and was voted the FIFA world player of the year in 2007. Kaka scored 29 times for Brazil.

He began his career at Sao Paulo FC in 2001, but it was at AC Milan -- whom he joined in 2003 - where he left his greatest mark.

In a glittering six-year spell, he led the Italian giants to the 2003-04 Scudetto, the 2004 Supercoppa Italiana, the 2007 UEFA Super Cup, the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup and the 2006-07 Champions League title.

Kaka moved to Real Madrid in 2009 for 67 million euros, and although he never quite reached the heights of his Milan years, he helped the Spanish club to the 2010-11 Copa del Rey and the 2011-12 La Liga title.

The playmaker returned to Milan for the 2013-14 season and enjoyed a successful five-month loan spell with Sao Paulo before finishing his career at Orlando City.

Some of the current and former footballers paid their tributes to Kaka.

Kaka's AC Milan teammate and then club captain Paolo Maldini wrote on Facebook: "My friend, it was a real pleasure to play and win with a champion like you, together we have lived wonderful years and I'm sure life will hold you other great emotions. Obrigado Kaká."

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said: Thank you, Kaká. It has been a pleasure to share this journey with you. Good luck with your new projects. Take care, my friend."

AC Milan and Juventus legend Andrea Pirlo said: "It's been a pleasure playing with you and watching you playing. My very best wishes for the future! @KAKA."

Italy's 2006 world Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro said: "You were a great opponent ..... Thanks for everything. #legend @KAKA."

Spain and Barcelona great David Villa wrote on Twitter: "It was a pleasure to have shared this beautiful sport with you, @Kaka.

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata felt football will miss Kaka. "Football will miss you ... thanks for everything you taught me!!," Morata, a product of Real Madrid academy, said.

Kaka's boyhood club Sao Paulo said: "When they stop playing, idols do not retire, they enter into history. More than goals and titles, what remains is the legacy of dedication, professionalism and affection. Thank you for taking part in such special moments. The doors of your house will always be open, @KAKA #Thank youKaka."