The first captain and Designated Player in Orlando City’s MLS history has called it a day. Kaká announced his retirement today in an interview and the last shirt he wore as an active player was Orlando City’s purple home kit.
I needed some time to think and make a very quiet decision, very calm and very conscious of what I would like for my professional life. Then I asked some very close people, my parents, my brother, my girlfriend and my brother's wife, five people, I asked for a prayer period. And studying, seeing what happened at that moment, proposals. I went to Europe to see some games, feel the excitement of the game there, where football really got to its full potential. And very conscious I have come to the conclusion that it is time to end my career as a professional player.
He also left this on social media:
Father,— Kaka (@KAKA) December 17, 2017
It was much more than I could ever imagined. Thank you! I’m now ready for the next journey. In Jesus name. Amem.
Foi muito mais do que eu pedi ou imaginei!Obrigado! Eis-me aqui para próxima jornada. Em nome de Jesus. Amém. pic.twitter.com/PofZBAV0BE
He is one of three former Ballon d’Or winners to play in Major League Soccer, joining Hristo Stoichkov (1994) and Lothar Matthäus (1990). He is still the most recent winner (2007) not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kaká played three seasons with the Lions, serving as Orlando City’s captain. He was an MLS All-Star all three years in the league, appearing in 75 games (69 starts), scoring 24 goals and adding 22 assists in 5,958 minutes of playing time.
The Brazilian’s contract expired at the end of the 2017 season and although the club made him an offer to stay on, he announced he was turning down the extension at a press conference in October.
Although the club had already moved on from Kaká, his retirement is sending ripples through the organization he represented for the first three seasons of its MLS existence. Much of the club leadership is Brazilian, and the players he took the field with forged a bond with him that will never be unbroken. It’s something Jonathan Spector spoke about in our recent interview with him.
So my friend, now it's official. What a beautiful career, how many joys, how many people inspired. I wanted to thank you so much for your football, for our 17 years of friendship and for join me in Orlando. I wish you the best in this new phase, always count on me. pic.twitter.com/OcKZTl7M15— Alex Leitao (@alexleitao) December 17, 2017
Although he may be more globally famous for his accomplishments with AC Milan and Real Madrid, Kaká built a legacy in Orlando and he’ll forever be part of this club’s MLS origins.