Kaka: “I want to win it all… then join City”

You don’t need FourFourTwo to tell you that £15m a year is an awful lot of money.

Even with spending money for Mrs Kaka (Carolina), it’s fair to say that, should he join Manchester City, Kaka will be a new entry in FourFourTwo’s Football Rich List 2010.

But is it all about the wonga?

From City’s and Milan’s points of view, undoubtedly. City are making a point: money is no object. It’s reminiscent of Abramovich’s early days at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea would routinely splash out double what anyone else was offering to emphasise their spending power (Damien Duff, Shaun Wright-Phillips, etc).

Milan, meanwhile, know that with that money they can rebuild an ageing team.

For Kaka, though, it’s harder to tell. It’s not like he’s struggling. At Milan he earns around £9.5m a year, courtesy of a whopping club contract and commercial deals with Adidas and Armani.

A double-your-income offer would be enough to turn anyone’s head. But maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye.

You see, nine years ago, long before he became a household name, Kaka, a deeply religious man, suffered a life-threatening injury. And that incident has informed his decision-making ever since.

In 2000, at home in Brazil, he smashed his head on the bottom of a swimming pool, fracturing a spinal vertebra, an injury that threatened to end his career as a footballer before it had begun.

“The doctors said I was very lucky, that I could have been paralysed,” Kaka told FourFourTwo in November 2007 (read the full interview here). “But I think it was God – He saved me from something worse.”

Out of action for a year, the Brazilian has no doubt that the incident played a crucial role in his development. “It helped shape me, principally as a person, but as a player too. I learned that you have to be determined and give your best every day, because the next day you might not be able to.

...and Sheikh Mansour, or Silvio Berlusconi?

“I said to myself, ‘When I get back, I’m going to do my best because the thing I most love to do I can’t do now.’”

It was during his recuperation that Kaka made a list of 10 ‘short-term’ goals. Three years later, he’d achieved the lot.

1. Play football again Achieved: March 2001

2. Make it into the professional ranksAchieved: March 2001

3. Get into the squad of 23 used during the championshipAchieved: April 2001

4. Fight for a place in the squad of 18 that go to the concentraçao (pre-match training camp)Achieved: December 2001

5. Win a regular place in the first teamAchieved: January 2002

6. Play in the Under-20 World CupAchieved: June 2001

7. Retain place in the Sao Paulo squad after the Under-20 World CupAchieved: August 2001

8. Get called up to the full national squadAchieved: January 2002

9. Play for the national sideAchieved: January 2002

10. Earn a transfer to a big team in Italy or SpainAchieved: August 2003

The question now is whether he’s finally added No.11: make as much money as is humanly possible.

Maybe he has. After all, he’s won the World Cup, Champions League, Serie A, two types of Super Cup and the Club World Cup, along with the Balon D’Or and World Player of the Year awards. Oh, and appeared in Time magazine’s slightly odd 100 Most Influential People In The World list. What does it matter if he doesn’t challenge for trophies again?

On the other hand, maybe the idea of making a team great appeals to Kaka. At Milan, he was joining a footballing powerhouse; anything he did was merely adding to a rich history. At City, he has the opportunity to write the story.

There is a precedent. Back in 1977, Kevin Keegan turned his back on European Champions Liverpool to join Hamburg, an ambitious, rising club in Germany.

Keegan said he wanted a challenge, to be in on the ground floor and build something big. He instantly became the highest-paid player in Germany and went on to win the Balon D’Or in successive years.

KK and his XS trunks take on Germany – and win

Like so much that Keegan did, it nearly worked out perfectly. Hamburg won the league title in 1979 but lost the European Cup final to Nottingham Forest in 1980.

(At which point, Keegan went mad, joining Southampton, but let’s not go there.)

Perhaps Kaka is the modern-day Keegan. A God-fearing dreamer with an idealist streak who wants to change the world.

Then again, £15m is an awful lot of money…


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