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Why Kaka didn't join Manchester City in 2009 – in his own words: "The situation messed me up..."

Kaka Manchester City
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I'd finally come to the conclusion that it wasn't quite the right time for me to go to City, and the main reason was the uncertainty over the squad-building process that they were about to undertake. It wasn’t clear to me how the squad would be reshaped and I wasn’t too convinced it would work.

Nowadays, Manchester City is a much more solid club, so it would be an easier decision if I had to make it today. Anyone who receives an offer from them now won’t suffer from the same headaches that I experienced

Nowadays, Manchester City is a much more solid club, so it would be an easier decision if I had to make it today. Anyone who receives an offer from them now won’t suffer from the same headaches that I experienced nearly a decade ago. To put it simply, if my negotiations with them had taken place this year, my decision would have been very different, that’s for sure.

Unfortunately, things were different back then. I was being asked to swap one of the most historical and successful clubs in Europe for a team who were only at the beginning of a completely new project, where I was supposed to be the first big player. Looking back, it was safer to stay at Milan, one of the leading clubs in Europe and a club regularly competing to win the Champions League – a place where I had become one of the key figures and was very much respected.

People always ask me about that famous scene where I leant out of the window of my home, happily waving my Milan shirt for all of the supporters down below to see. This was something I decided to do instinctively. It was a reaction to everything that had happened – to the confusion and pressure which I had suffered. After telling my father that I wasn’t going anywhere, the next step was making Milan aware of my final decision.

The club, through its press officers, immediately made an official statement. Media outlets soon began running the story, and it wasn’t long before the news reached the crowd gathered at the ground floor of my building. I could hear the fans celebrating, screaming and singing. I took my Milan shirt and joined the supporters in celebrating. They sang and danced for ages – there were even flares and smoke bombs. It was a wild celebration and I’d never seen anything quite like it.

Half an hour later, Leonardo arrived at my house. We spent the rest of the evening chatting about the process and my decision.

I don’t regret my decision at all. Obviously everybody gets decisions wrong, but some people will spend an eternity discussing a decision without ever coming to a conclusion on whether to do one thing or the other. I’m pleased with the way my life and career have panned out since that moment.

I’m proud of my career, but if I could have planned everything I would have considered playing in English football at some point

I’m happy with the person I am now – both professionally and personally – and my decisions in life have helped to shape the person I am. I’m proud of what I’ve learned in Italy, in Spain and in America at Orlando City, as well as the other chapters in my life. Every moment was important to me ending up where I am today.

When I finally left Milan a few months later, I went to Real Madrid to make my dream come true. That was one thing that had always been quite clear in my head: if I had to go to another club after Milan, it would be Real Madrid. But life has its own ways and at that moment the offer came from Manchester City. I guess my decision to deny City’s offer is proof that the money was never a priority in my decisions.

After saying no to City, I knew other offers would come in June and July. Milan had opened the door to a move and I started considering it, too. I had it clear in my head that if Real Madrid showed any interest in me the following summer, I would love to play for them.

Looking back, I have no doubt that playing in the Premier League would have been a fantastic experience. I’m 35 years old now and it’s easy to say at this moment. I already know what has happened in my career and the consequences of my choices. Saying it doesn’t mean I regret any decision. Not at all. I’m proud of my career, but if I could have planned everything I would have considered playing in English football at some point.

You have to be calm and find peace in your decisions. And, at that moment, I found the peace in saying no to Manchester City. ‘I don’t want to go, but thank you.’

This feature originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!

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