Kaká started his footballing career at the age of eight, when he began playing for a local club. As a child, he also played tennis, and it was not until he moved on to São Paulo FC and signed his first professional contract with the club at the age of 15 that he chose to focus on football. In 2003 he joined Italian club Milan for a fee of €8.5 million. While at Milan, Kaká won a Serie A title and the UEFA Champions League, and in 2007 he received the FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or awards. After his success with Milan, Kaká joined Real Madrid for a transfer fee of €65 million. At the time, this was the second highest transfer fee (in euros) ever, behind only the €75 million fee for Zinedine Zidane. After four seasons in Spain, he returned to Milan for a season in 2013, scoring his 100th goal for the club. At the end of the 2013–14 season, he joined MLS expansion club Orlando City, but initially returned to his former Brazilian club São Paulo FC on loan. In 2015, he scored on his MLS debut for Orlando City; he was later included in the roster for the 2015 MLS All-Star Game, where he was named Most Valuable Player.
At international level, Kaká made his debut for the Brazil national team in 2002, and was selected for their victorious World Cup squad that year, as well as the 2006 and 2010 tournaments. He was also a member of Brazil’s 2005 and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup-winning squads, winning the Golden Ball Award in the 2009 edition, as the tournament’s best player.
In addition to his contributions on the pitch, Kaká is known for his humanitarian work. In 2004, by the time of his appointment, he became the youngest ambassador of the UN World Food Programme. For his contributions on and off the pitch, Kaká was named in the Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people in 2008 and 2009. Kaká was the first sportsperson to amass 10 million followers on Twitter
Regarded as one of the best players of his generation, Kaká has been described on the FIFA website as having the “capacity to glide almost effortlessly past opponents, provide defence-splitting passes and score consistently from distance.”During his prime at Milan in the mid to late 2000s, and prior to the injuries he suffered at Real Madrid, which have affected him physically, he was a quick, strong, agile, highly skilful and creative team player with excellent balance, capable of dribbling past defenders in one on one situations as well as during counterattacks. Kaká is also renowned for his vision and passing ability, enabling him to create chances for teammates.
Having performed predominantly as a playmaking attacking midfielder throughout his career, he is known for being capable of scoring goals as well as creating and assisting them. A versatile player, he has been deployed in other attacking positions, performing as a winger on either flank as a supporting forward, and on occasion as a striker, or even in a deeper role as a midfield playmaker. In addition to these characteristics, Kaká also possesses a powerful and accurate shot from both inside and outside the penalty area, with both feet; he is also an accurate penalty taker.