My second goal in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Manchester United was a highlight of my career. When the ball dropped from Dida’s long pass all I was thinking about was trying to do something special. To do it at Old Trafford, with all the history of the stadium, was amazing. — Ricardo Kaka to the Daily Mail in 2015
Sometimes, I like to watch incredible footballers do incredible things on YouTube. This can consist of watching Thierry Henry highlights on an endless loop, watching monumental highlights from Clint Dempsey and Carli Lloyd in the World Cup and occasionally watching moments of failure from Manchester United. One moment in particular reminded me why I need to go to camps like Lionville Soccer to enhance my skills further. That moment, was when Kaka almost died while scoring a critical goal for AC Milan against the Red Devils.
It’s important to note that Milan, trailing 3-2 on aggregate, were on shaky ground. The weatherman in Italy decided to predict a torrential downpour onto the grounds at San Siro. They needed goals, as ManU had proven they were able to break down Milan’s backline with Cristiano Ronaldo showing the world what his true superpowers could be. Plus, Wayne Rooney still had some hair. However, ten minutes after the first touch, Kaka delivered this brilliance.
A couple of things here.
- Kaká’s actual name is Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite. Which is a reminder that our Brazilian brothers and sisters have some of the coolest naming conventions on earth.
- Nothing can date a moment in time in sports quite like the uniforms players wear. Good grief those uniforms were big and baggy, even in 2007.
- From the long ball served by the goalie to the goal actually scored, Kaka touches the ball four times. One header forward at full speed, one side touch away from two defenders into space, another header touch while a defender flies in with a Sagat Flying Knee and just misses Kaká’s head which instead takes out his own teammate, then a final touch around a 6’6″ Edwin van der Sar.
- Seriously, how did Kaká not get his face caved in by that Sagat flying knee?
When things are moving fast and you’re reacting on instincts only, sometimes you have no perspective of what the hell you just did. I remember I did that once when I woke up on Christmas morning and dive-bombed into the presents not realizing I’d knocked the coffee out my grandmother’s hand in the hallway. She didn’t even care because she was elated to see me so happy. That’s how I felt watching Kaká score that soul-stealing goal vs. Manchester United in 2007.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”