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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 17, 2007

Kaka named FIFA World Player of the Year

ZURICH, Dec 17 (Reuters) - AC Milan playmaker Kaka added to his remarkable haul of trophies and titles on Monday when he was named FIFA World Player 2007.

The 25-year-old Brazilian international beat Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo in the annual poll of national team coaches and captains.

Kaka collected more points than the combined total of the other two nominees, world soccer's governing body FIFA said after the ceremony here. He won 1,047 votes while Argentine Messi gained 504 and Portuguese Ronaldo picked up 426.

Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba was fourth on 209. Barcelona and Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho, winner of the award in 2004 and 2005, came fifth.

'Tonight is really special for me,' said Kaka, who helped Milan to their seventh European Cup title in May and was also inspirational in Sunday's 4-2 Club World Cup final victory over Argentina's Boca Juniors.

'When I was young I dreamed of playing for Sao Paulo and playing just one game for the national team. That was it...but the Bible says God gives us more than we ask for and that is what has happened in my life.'

Kaka, a devoted Christian, was a heavy favourite to win Monday's prize after landing France Football magazine's prestigious Ballon d'Or and World Soccer magazine's World Player of the Year accolade.

'I had always thought about winning this (FIFA) award,' said Kaka. 'But there are always doubts until it is actually confirmed.

'It is not just this award but the whole year that has been very nice. Winning the Champions League and everything that has happened, it's just been wonderful.'

Kaka received his prize from compatriot and three-times World Cup winner Pele, who was himself given FIFA's presidential award for his lifetime contribution to the sport.

Although Kaka was rested for Brazil's successful Copa America campaign in June and July, Pele said his success with the national team had helped set him apart from the other nominated players.

'Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi have played some great football this year but they are not yet the most prominent players in their national teams,' Pele said.

'Kaka has been playing at this level for Brazil for four years now, he helps out in midfield and he is also a great example off the pitch. He's the complete player.'

Compatriot Marta completed Brazil's clean sweep at Monday's gala when she was named women's World Player for the second year running.