While some might argue that Jose Mourinho was responsible for ruining Kaka’s Real Madrid career, the now-Orlando City SC star has insisted in an interview with the Daily Mail that he loved playing under the Portuguese tactician.
Moving to Real from AC Milan in June 2009 for a £56million fee, Kaka would see Mourinho join him at the Bernabeu the following season but the 2007 Ballon d’Or-winner never managed to become a core part of his plans, making less than 100 league appearances before returning to the Italian capital in September 2013.
Nevertheless, having also won 2011-12 La Liga title and Spanish Cup in 2011 under his guidance, the Brazilian superstar claims he bears now ill-will towards his former manager, even labelling him “one of the best coaches in the world”.
“His ambition for victory sets Mourinho apart,” said Kaka. “He wants to win every game, so he prepares all the smallest details; in training, at the game, everything. I loved to work with him.
“He tries everything to extract the best from the players, to push them. This is what he can do better than anyone else.
“I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Mourinho, he is one of the best coaches in the world.”
While injuries were in part to blame for Kaka’s Real struggles, the former World Cup-winner would experience somewhat of a renaissance after returning to Milan, netting nine times in 37 total games last season, including his 100th goal for the club.
He would spend just one season back at the San Siro, however, before opting to join MLS expansion side Orlando ahead of their inaugural campaign, having been long-time friends with club owner and compatriot Flavio Augusto da Silva.
Nevertheless, having gotten back into the Brazil national team prior to his stateside switch, the Selecao legend stresses that he hasn’t moved to Florida for a career swan song and still hopes to have one more World Cup in him once 2018 comes around.
“It is in three-and-a-half years and if Dunga needs me I'll be ready to play in the national team,” he added. “It is a real motivation for me.”
Kaka’s performance don’t show much sign of decline either, having marked his Orlando debut in front of a 63,000-strong crowd at the Citrus Bowl with a last-gasp free-kick to earn his side a 1-1 draw with fellow expansion side New York City FC.
The Florida-based outfit have since picked up a win and loss to the Houston Dynamo and Vancouver Whitecaps, respectively, but, even at 32, their club captain looks like he still has a fair amount of magic left in his boots.