Kaka takes Player of the Year award

PARIS - AC Milan's Brazilian midfielder Kaka was yesterday named France Football's Player of the Year, winning the prestigious Ballon d'Or award.

PARIS - AC Milan's Brazilian midfielder Kaka was yesterday named France Football's Player of the Year, winning the prestigious Ballon d'Or award.

Born under the name of Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, he succeeds Italy's World Cup winning captain and defender Fabio Cannavaro, and comes two years after the last Brazilian winner of the trophy, Barcelona's Ronaldinho.

The 25-year-old Kaka notably played a starring role in AC Milan's triumphant Champions League campaign, scoring 10 goals and setting up the winner for Filippo Inzaghi in the final against Liverpool.

He received 444 points in the France Football vote, easily ahead of Manchester United's Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo, who had 277, with Barcelona's Argentinian midfielder Lionel Messi placed third with 255 points.

"This is very special and culminates an astonishing year for me," Kaka said.

"It's the top prize around and the only way to win something like this is to play for a team like AC Milan. It's great to be part of a team that wins." Kaka's brother, Digao, was in Paris for the award ceremony and paid tribute to his brother. Kaka's wife Caroline and mother Cristina were also among the guests.

Born in the capital Brasilia, Kaka started off with Sao Paulo before moving to Europe with AC Milan in 2003. He has been capped 54 times for his country and scored 19 goals. He was in the Brazilian World Cup squads in 2002 and 2006. - Sapa-AFP

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