Kaka believes that it will take ‘two or three years of sacrifice’ for Milan to start again, thinks Inzaghi’s timing may have been off, although ‘It’s difficult to say no to such an opportunity’, tells Galliani to look at Molino and praises Neymar – ‘He is a phenomenon’.
Kaka returned to Milan in the summer of 2013 but only stayed one season before heading off to the MLS and Orlando (with a small stop at his first club Sao Paulo).
Now Ricky, who turns 33 in 12 days, is doing what he does best – exciting the fans in the stands and at home watching.
“If I’ve already figured out the differences between European football and the MLS? One above all: you play once a week and there is more time to prepare for the game,” the Brazilian attacker said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. “The consequence is that the opponents are always in place in terms of physical condition and the games are very competitive. There is more balance here.
“If I expected to debut with a goal, in front of 62 thousand fans? In Brazil there aren’t as many fans, sometimes also in big games. And then I’d never happened to score the first goal in the history of a club. It’s really exciting. Beckham was the one to convince me to come to the MLS? Before I had him as a teammate at Milan, I’d met him several times here in Florida during some visits.
“He always spoke very well of it to me and said it was a great league which is entertaining. Yes, his opinion was important and if he had told me less positive things I’d have probably changed my mind.
“When the decision was made to leave Milan for the US? At the end of last season I told Galliani that I have to return to Brazil to solve some things and to decide whether to return. Then Orlando City contacted me and I signed for them. Galliani was the first to know, I thanked him for everything he has done to me.
“The fact that I wasn’t going to the World Cup influenced my decision? It did a little. I did everything to be in Brazil for the WC; then I saw that I won’t be part of the team & I thought it was time for the move.
“If I would’ve stayed longer had Milan been more competitive last season? It’s hard to say. Having the opportunity to play again in Milan even with playing in only one competition and with everything I experienced in the club, it still made me really happy. The differences between the team I found at Milanello in 2003 compared to the one I met last year? (Sighs) It had been four years since the last time I was there after having spent six wonderful years at Milan. I found some different players.
“I think that from my old friends only two had stayed, Bonera and another (Kaka was trying to think about the name of the other one but couldn’t remember the name – it was Christian Abbiati). Inzaghi was always around but no doubt the locker room was different. My nostalgia for Milan will never go away.
“What was missing in that team (that finished in 8th place last season)? The continuity. We played good games against Barcelona and Juventus but then something was always missing.
“If Inzaghi was rushed to accept this job? I don’t think so. Pippo is a one who loves football and lives for football. We all knew he would become a coach. He was one who never missed a game on TV. For me he took the right track. A year with the Allievi, a year with the Primavera.
“Then the time arrived to pick up a first team and it happened to be Milan. It’s difficult to say no to such an opportunity, maybe the timing wasn’t the best. If I saw Inzaghi’s Milan play? I only watched few games of Inzaghi’s Milan. I look at the results and they are already indicative. A season of suffering. But I am optimistic, two or three years of sacrifice and we will start over. We need to follow the example of Juve.
“If I will become a coach like Pippo? Right now I would say no. But who knows, maybe in 2-3 years when I’m retired I could change my mind. But not today. I’d like to stay in football but perhaps in a more managerial role, like Leonardo (who acted as a director of sport until Galliani made him coach in 2009).
“If I would’ve still left Milan if I knew how the adventure at Real Madrid would pan out? My years at Real Madrid were tough but beautiful (he spent 4 seasons with Los Blancos). I won La Liga, Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup and I scored 29 goals in four seasons. It doesn’t seem to be like a bad record. Going to Real Madrid made me grow a lot and I consider it a milestone in my career, a positive thing. When I’m old, I’ll be able to say ‘Hey, I played for Milan and Real’. That’s not too bad.
“The crisis of Italian football is only a matter of economics? Yes. It’s objectively not easy to compete with squads like those of PSG, Chelsea, Manchester City and other rich clubs, with limited funds. Italy isn’t going through a good period and the tax rules don’t help. But during these difficult times, some manage to find solutions. I like to take the example of Juventus, who are doing great things and reap the benefits.
“They’re almost certain to win another league title and they’re doing great in the Champions League (they are facing Monaco in the QF). Evidently there is something special about how it’s working.
“If the economic situation in Italy would’ve been like it is today back then, would I choose to play in Italy in 2003? Let’s say that I didn’t choose your country, but it was Italy who chose me. So I have to thank you for allowing me to become who I am. Not only in football but also in terms of lifestyle, the people and the fans. If I were to give advice to some of my new teammates I would tell him: ‘Go to Italy!’. Any suggestions for Galliani? Kevin Molino, he’s from Trinidad, a good attacker. He must grow and learn but can do well.
“What I think about Mario Balotelli (who left Milan to join Liverpool in the summer)? I’m not quite following his new adventure in Liverpool. But I had him by my side for a year at Milan and I’m sure that he has talent. In my opinion he sometimes doesn’t take into account all the responsibilities that he has, in both calcio and the squad for which he plays. Mario underestimates the importance of this aspect.
“My future in the Brazilian national team? At the end of 2014 I made two appearances in friendlies with Argentina and Japan. Then I wasn’t part of the next 2 call-ups. Carlos Dunga knows me and he knows what I can give. I don’t think that being in the MLS can block my way. I’m waiting for it. If I do well here and play with continuity then I know that I’ve have the opportunity.
“What I felt after Brazil’s 7-1 defeat to Germany? Infinite sadness, like everyone else. People were waiting for something that never arrived. It’s a heavy chapter in our history.
“If the United States is becoming a popular destination among players? When I agreed to come here my idea was to help football grow. It started with Beckham and continued with Henry. Now there are David Villa, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard that are coming and also Giovinco at Toronto, who could still continue playing in Europe. You earn well? Yes. But above all, life is good here.
“Who is the player I’m most excited about, besides Messi and Ronaldo? Right now? Neymar. I played with him in the national team and I know what he can do. He’s a phenomenon. How can we defeat racism and hooliganism in Italy? It’s hard. These are situations that originate in the education of people. It’s not a problem of football, but of the society. I’m sorry to see stadiums are used as a stage for these diseases.
“Football has a duty to be a protector because there are positive values. In our games here in the US there are entire families in the stands – grandparents and children. It’s still pure and it’s all very nice.”