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Resurrection Man – The fall and rise of Kaka
- Updated: 17 October, 2012
For a new player to a club, there is no better way to become instantly endeared by its fans than by scoring against their most fierce rivals. And, this is exactly what Kaka did shortly after joining Milan in 2003. At the tender age of just 21-years-old, he netted Milan’s second in a 3-1 victory over Inter. It was the start of great things for both player and club.
It is incredible, however, to think that just three years prior the Brazilian starlet was told that he may never walk again, let alone play football. On a visit to his grandparents’ house in Caldas Novas, he slipped on a springboard and hit his head on the bottom of a pool twisting his neck and fracturing a vertebra. Miraculously, he fully recovered and since then Kaka has never been in two minds as to who helped him pull through: “Back at home we always thanked God because we knew that it was His hand that had saved and protected me,” he said some years later. It was a remarkable turnaround for the young footballer and an inspiring one, too.
Fast forward to 2012, Kaka has faced a different kind of problem, yet, one that has also been career-threatening in a different kind way. Cast aside and told to find another club by Jose Mourinho during the summer, the future was not looking bright for the Real Madrid number eight in August. He sat on the bench as the Spanish champions got their season underway at home to Valencia and he did the same in the next four matches. October was fast approaching and he still had not seen a minute of playing time.
It was a sad sight to see the man who once had the world at his feet left to rot away on the bench, Not that anyone didn’t expect it. Injuries and poor form had undermined his first two seasons in the Spanish capital and while last season he did contribute goals and assists, by the end of May it was clear that he really was not a central part of his coach’s plans, hence the harsh words by Mourinho a couple of months later.
Despite all his trials and tribulations, Kaka insisted earlier this year: “I want to stay here (at Real Madrid), absolutely. I am not going anywhere because I want to succeed at Madrid”. However, as summer came he was increasingly been linked with a move away. Former club, Milan, were keen bring their former star back to Italy and it seemed the Brazilian was not against the idea. However, the clubs failed to agree to a deal and that was that.
In the end, Kaka remained a Real Madrid player and he was left with one choice; to try and win favour with Mourinho. A difficult task that was made more difficult with the club’s signing of Luka Modric, a player the Portuguese is particularly fond of. With the arrival of the Croatian, the Madrid press were labelling Kaka as El Octavo; the eighth choice attacker behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria, Jose Maria Callejon and Luka Modric. Suffice to say, he was a long way down the pecking order.
In response, Kaka knuckled down, doing double sessions on a daily basis at Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground with increasing his speed and strength the two focal areas of his new training regime. He has often also been seen training with the Castilla, like the day after his Real’s victory over Manchester City – which Mourinho had given his players off.
He was trying to make a statement of intent to Mourinho. And, if the message had not got through to the Portuguese through his training, the Brazilian made sure it did when given a chance to play against Columbia’s Millionaires. A fine performance and three goals and he had Mourinho thinking again, as the former Chelsea boss himself admitted.Follow @icentrocampista
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