December 17, 2007 / 8:29 PM / 12 years ago

Kaka rewarded for a simple life

MILAN (Reuters) - AC Milan and Brazil playmaker Kaka defies the model of a modern footballer.

The devoted Christian largely avoids celebrity parties and does not worry too much about his image, expressing himself on the pitch with his mesmeric skill and driving runs.

Concentrating on his technique helped the 25-year-old win the Ballon d’Or award earlier this month to go with his FIFPro World Player of the Year and UEFA European Club Player of the Year accolades.

A goal in Milan’s 4-2 win over Boca Juniors in Sunday’s Club World Cup final was also the perfect curtain raiser to the Brazilian being named FIFA’s World Player of the Year on Monday.

He finished ahead of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo in the voting to add yet another award to his trophy cabinet.

Kaka struck 10 goals to guide Milan to their seventh European Cup triumph in May, setting up this flurry of awards in a year without a World Cup or European Championship.

Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro won last year’s World Player of the Year title after leading his side to World Cup glory in Germany.

Kaka missed Brazil’s Copa America victory in July in order to rest and has still been recognised as the cream of the crop thanks to his Milan form.

His club side have also had a difficult time at domestic level, sneaking into fourth place in Serie A last term after suffering an eight-point deduction for match-fixing.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

This season they have had an even worse time and occupy a mid-table position having failed to win at home in the league.

But Kaka has always shone through, this time his energy and passing rather than his goals having put Milan into the Champions League knockout stages.

His wife announced recently they were expecting their first son while Kaka said life as an evangelical pastor appealed to him after soccer.

There are signs though that being seen as the world’s best player is starting to make him more self-aware.

Kaka is featuring in more adverts and magazine shoots, one talking openly about virginity, while he has consistently hinted in interviews the prospect of playing for Real Madrid interests him.

Madrid tried to tempt Milan to sell throughout the close season with an 80 million euro (57 million pounds) offer and the Italian club even acknowledged that Kaka’a father and agent had held talks with the Spanish champions.

Another bid seems likely in the future but Milan can now easily up the price knowing he is officially the world’s best.

Editing by Miles Evans and Tony Jimenez

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