Football: Brazilian star Kaka announces retirement

Former AC Milan's player Kaka greets fans during the UEFA Europa League group D football match between AC Milan and FK Austria-Wiendur at the San Siro stadium in Milan on Nov 23, 2017.
Former AC Milan's player Kaka greets fans during the UEFA Europa League group D football match between AC Milan and FK Austria-Wiendur at the San Siro stadium in Milan on Nov 23, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Former Brazilian World Cup champion Kaka announced his retirement as a player on Sunday (Dec 17), suggesting that a management career at his old club AC Milan could be on the cards.

"I am preparing to continue in football and to have a different role, but I will no longer be a professional player, an athlete," the 2007 Ballon d'Or winner told Globo television.

"I would like to take part in a club in a role more like... a manager, a sporting director - someone between the field and the club."

Kaka, 35, said AC Milan "recently made this proposal."

On his Twitter feed, devout Christian Kaka, who was part of Brazil's 2002 World Cup-winning team, wrote: "Father, It was much more than I could ever imagined. Thank you! I'm now ready for the next journey. In Jesus' name. Amem."

During a storied career, the hugely talented attacking midfielder also starred at Real Madrid and finished his playing days at US club Orlando City in Major League Soccer.

Spain's La Liga paid homage on its Twitter account, saying: "One of football's greatest talents is hanging up his boots after a glittering career."

It was while at Milan that Kaka picked up the Ballon d'Or, awarded annually to the world's best player. He was the last player other than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to receive the prize.

He also helped the Italian side to a Serie A title in 2003-04 and propelled Milan to the 2007 Champions League title, scoring a competition-best 10 goals as the club were crowned kings of Europe for the seventh time.

However, Kaka said his transition off the pitch wasn't being taken for granted.

"The fact of having had successes as a professional player does not mean I will or won't be a good manager. So I want to prepare myself for this going ahead, to study, to follow, to be closer to certain clubs, especially those where I played," he told Globo.

Kaka had played with Orlando City since the team's first MLS season in 2015 and scored the team's first ever goal. In November, media reports said he had been considering a move to Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng in the Chinese Super League.