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Kaka wins Ballon d'Or award
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AC Milan's Brazilian midfielder Kaka was named yesterday as 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 placing third with 255 points.


"This is very special for me - it 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.


"It's very emotional for me to be here, to see my brother receive this trophy, and to know that he is the best makes me proud," he said.


Kaka's wife Caroline and mother Cristina were also amongst the guests.


"It's a great honor as the wife of Kaka to be at this ceremony. I know how important it was for my husband to win this tophy," said Caroline.


"This is a great achievement. Ever since he was young I saw our son dedicate himself," added Cristina.


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.


AC Milan Vice President Adriano Galliani said Kaka's name would be added to the list of stars playing for the great Italian team that have won the title.


"It's a fantastic story. We have had (Gianni) Rivera, (Marco) Van Basten won it three times, (Andrei) Shevchenko and now there is Kaka," said Galliani, who then dismissed any notion that the Brazilian might be tempted away from the San Siro.


"Congratulations to him and his family. He will stay at Milan, I can guarantee it."


(AFP via China Daily December 3, 2007)

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