To mark the 37th birthday of Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, or Kaká to the footballing world, we thought it would best to hark back to the time when he gave Lionel Messi a good old pasting.
Formerly the most expensive player in world football when he swapped AC Milan for Real Madrid in 2009, Kaka is the last player not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to lift the Ballon d’Or, having done so after inspiring AC Milan to the 2007 Champions League.
In the peak of powers, he was utterly unplayable – a complete attacking midfielder who did things that no other player had in their locker.
And one such instance where he proved just how good he really was, was in a friendly between Brazil and Argentina at the Emirates Stadium in 2006.
Dunga’s Samba stars were already two goals to the good through a double from former Manchester City midfielder Elano, then playing for Shakhtar – when Kaka scored a sensational solo goal to make it 3-0.
Late in the game, having seized possession, Kaka set off towards goal and breezed past a young Messi.
Messi is anything but a slouch, of course, and did his best to catch him, but Kaka’s combination of pace and power was electric and he made his way to the opposition box in lighting quick fashion.
He kept going, going and going – having ice-cool composure to supply a tidy finish that sneaked in. The speed at which Kaka was able to run at is rather underrated, really, as it’s not a trait that you immediately associate with him. But make no mistake about it, when he was in his stride, you weren’t catching him.
While his move to Real didn’t end up proving to be much of a success, the Brazilian playmaker still earned a La Liga winner’s medal out of it, before returning to Milan and then continuing onto the MLS, making 73 appearances for Orlando City.