| Kaka is tipped to follow in footsteps of Milan legends Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit
Rome: He may have only played a handful of games, but Kaka has already made an impact at AC Milan. Signed from Sao Paolo in August, the 21-year-old Brazilian midfielder has adapted quickly to life in Serie A, forcing his way into the first team ahead of World Cup star Rivaldo.
On Sunday he gave another mature performance in the 3-1 win over derby rivals Inter Milan, prompting many of Milan’s attacks and rounding off a silky display by scoring the second goal, his first for the European champions.
While a neglected Rivaldo watched from the stands, Kaka was lapping up the applause of the ‘Rossoneri’ fans, who have taken quickly to the new kid on the block.
The club’s vice-president Adriano Galliani believes Kaka, tipped to follow in the footsteps of former San Siro legends such as Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit, was made for Milan.
“Last summer everyone wanted David Beckham, but it is not in the genes of this club to have an Englishman here,” he said.
“It is in our DNA to have a great number 10 playing behind two forwards and that’s what Kaka is. He will become the best player in the world — I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to put too much pressure on him,” Galliani said.
Kaka, whose full name is Ricardo Izecson Dos Santos Leite, is aware of the pitfalls of the professional game and is refusing to get carried away with his early success. “There’s no rush and I’m taking one step at a time,” said the Brazil international, a member of the 2002 World Cup-winning squad.
“I just feel lucky to have made it this far, playing for a great team such as Milan. All my dreams are coming true. I dreamt of playing in the Champions League and I was able to fulfil my wish, and then I started thinking about the derby and I scored in that,” said the Brazilian.
Asked if he was surprised by how quickly the fans have warmed to him, Kaka replied: “They’ve been fantastic. I never thought I could win the affections of the public so soon.”
Rivaldo performed a dramatic U-turn last month by deciding to stay with Milan until January, having initially decided to leave after failing to feature in the first few games of the season.
The unsettled 31-year-old, who despite having an excellent World Cup last year, has never looked comfortable in Italy, may be on his way out of Milan, but Kaka still holds the utmost respect for his older compatriot.
“Rivaldo is a special person; he has given me a lot in the past and still continues to do so,” he said. “He knew how much it meant to me to have him by my side when I arrived here and has always encouraged me, on and off the pitch.” (AFP)