Kaka re­veals what scares him

The Samba star was a pic­ture of el­e­gance on the pitch – he talks foot­balling artistry, de­vel­op­ing a calm mind and the boots that fired him to World Cup suc­cess

FourFourTwo - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view Ben Welch Por­trait Tom Watkins

You glide when you are run­ning with the ball – was that a nat­u­ral gift or some­thing you had to nur­ture?

Bal­ance is some­thing I needed to work hard on when I was a young­ster grow­ing up in Sao Paulo. I think it’s an im­por­tant at­tribute for a player to have, es­pe­cially when you are run­ning at speed. When I make a pass or have a shot at goal, I al­ways have do that on one foot, so main­tain­ing bal­ance is key to stay­ing in to­tal con­trol of my body while I’m ex­e­cut­ing the tech­nique.

You scored two bril­liant goals against Man United in 2007, one with your right foot and one with your left. How did you be­come so good with both feet?

It was purely down to prac­tice. When I was younger I trained with both feet by pass­ing the ball against a wall over and over. I think you should im­prove your best skill and work on your strengths, so I’d al­ways prac­tise with the right more than the left, al­though I made sure that I was com­fort­able with both feet.

You of­ten went for place­ment over power when­ever you had the op­por­tu­nity to shoot – why was that?

I al­ways pre­ferred a pre­cise fin­ish be­cause I re­alised from a young age that I didn’t have a pow­er­ful shot.

I scored a few goals that were hard shots, but most were placed fin­ishes. I learned how to bend the ball, which made it re­ally dif­fi­cult for the goal­keep­ers to save, even if it wasn’t a par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful strike.

You have al­ways had a very re­laxed de­meanour on the pitch. Is that a prod­uct of the Brazil­ian cul­ture and the coun­try’s gen­eral ap­proach to the sport?

This is just my style, I think. In Brazil, foot­ball’s about cre­ativ­ity and pro­duc­ing some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent, so by be­ing calm I could make sense of sit­u­a­tions more ef­fi­ciently. I used to panic a lot when I was younger, but calm­ness comes with more ex­pe­ri­ence. The main rea­son I started run­ning so fast with the ball to­wards goal was be­cause I used to be so scared of los­ing it!

Brazil have had some in­cred­i­bly tal­ented for­ward lines over the years – do you think Ney­mar, Gabriel Je­sus and Philippe Coutinho have the po­ten­tial to em­u­late some of the great names from past eras?

I think they’ve all got some in­cred­i­ble tal­ent and can po­ten­tially have in­cred­i­ble ca­reers. They are still very young, al­though they could go on to be­come one of the great­est for­ward lines that the na­tional team has ever pro­duced. How­ever, we’ll have to wait and see.

At your peak you were the best at­tack­ing mid­fielder on the planet and were crowned FIFA World Player of the Year in 2007. Which at­tack­ing mid­field­ers do you feel are cur­rently the best in the mod­ern game?

The po­si­tion’s changed a lit­tle bit in re­cent years. I’d say that Ney­mar’s a mod­ern at­tack­ing mid­fielder. He isn’t a striker or strictly a for­ward, as he likes to roam around the pitch and drops deeper to get hold of the ball. Li­onel Messi is the same, so I’d say those two are cur­rently the best in that po­si­tion in the mod­ern game.

You’ve played in many dif­fer­ent for­ma­tions dur­ing your ca­reer. Which do you think has suited you best?

I had a great pe­riod un­der Carlo Ancelotti at Mi­lan in 2007, win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League. He played me as a sec­ond for­ward and that meant I didn’t have too much de­fen­sive re­spon­si­bil­ity – all of my en­ergy and fo­cus was purely on scor­ing goals and mak­ing as­sists. This was an in­cred­i­ble pe­riod for me dur­ing my ca­reer.

If you could play in the same team as any cur­rent or for­mer player, who would you choose and why?

As a Brazil­ian I would al­ways have to say Pele. I’ve watched all the videos of him play­ing and it would be amaz­ing to have just one match along­side him.

You wore the Adi­das Preda­tor dur­ing your ca­reer – what did you love so much about the iconic boot?

The most im­por­tant thing is to be com­fort­able in your boot. Ev­ery year I wore the Preda­tor and that boot is a part of my history. When­ever I see one of my boots I can re­mem­ber the match, the pe­riod and the goal I scored or some­thing spe­cial that I did on the pitch. I’ve kept hold of my old boots and have Preda­tors in so many dif­fer­ent colours – it’s nice to look at them some­times be­cause they bring back great mem­o­ries.

Be­low Savour­ing a Mi­lan derby equaliser in 2004

Bot­tom Place­ment over power: Ed­win van der Sar was beaten thrice by the Brazil­ian in the 2006-07 Cham­pi­ons League semi

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