In football, there are countless unfulfilled promises and eternal promises, the Gutis and the Adrianos (who I have always hoped would come good) and countless more wasted talent, wonder kids who never fully fulfilled their potential, geniuses who were cursed with a perplexing type of madness. The most recent and famous kind comes in the form of Mario Balotelli, the old ones include the Zidanes, Cantonas, Gutis (I know, again, but I loved him), and if we are to travel far back, the Maradonas.
Then there are the tragic stories, the players who were not insane, those who did not burn out because of their lack of professionalism, the players who fate turned against, either by the most despised injury bug or the unlucky situation of being unable to receive chances because of the quality of the team, here’s looking at you Afellay.
The original Ronaldo, my favorite player, was a prime example of this, even though he managed to spit in the face of fate and bad luck, his is still a story of what if. Knee injury, after seizure, after knee injury, a thyroid disease and still, he defied all odds and not only made history, he also became a permanent stain in the heart of all football fans.
All of this leads to the current situation in Real Madrid, the rebirth of Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, better known as Kaka to the football world. His story is one that refuses to become a tragedy as so many other footballers, Brazilians in particular have become.
A man of God, once the youngest ambassador of the UN’s ”World Food Program”, a man who was almost paralyzed by a swimming pool accident at the age of eighteen, winner of Scudetto’s, Champion League trophies and Super Cups. Teammate to Maldini, Shevchenko (another talent wasted), Manchester United destroyer, Ballon d’Or winner, the man who shattered the world record fee previously held by Zidane (which was then obliterated by the destroyer of goal records, Cristiano Ronaldo).
Yet, after all of these achievements and single handed destructions of your favorite teams, the media were like piranhas at the thought of his demise. Where would he go to, Chelsea? Arsenal? “Back to Santos with him” they bellowed, like vultures above a dying animal, they circled, waiting for the final breath from the man who has given his all, the kindest man in football and yet they treated him like road-kill the second he faced adversity.
His situation was not helped by the emergence of Ozil, the tormentor of England and Argentina and Angel Di Maria, part time wizard, full time diver. Where he play? Will he be the same Kaka that rampaged through the San Siro? Surely he is past it at this age as his game mostly relies on speed and he’s quickly approaching 30. But a man who has faced death is calm in the lion’s den.
After a good showing in the World Cup 2010, which was quickly ended by a dubious red card and Dunga’s inability to master the concept of beautiful football, Kaka was subjected to surgery to fix a problematic hernia which he had been playing with for months. No credit was given for playing through a difficult injury; rather the surgery was hailed as the beginning of the end for the man who belonged to Jesus.
The first year at Madrid was poor, I must admit, even when he did play he did not look up to speed, though there were bright spots such as his partnership with the greasy king of sit-ups, it was ultimately a disappointment. Yet one thing this current world of football absolutely refuses to do is to give a man time. They wanted Kaka out now, as if they were Perez or worse, Zamparini. Never mind that he has played almost two years with injury, has been out a further six months after surgery, there was no understanding, they wanted results , and if they could not get those, they wanted a transfer, luckily Mourinho is no fool.
Over and over Ricardo reiterated his desire to succeed at Madrid and to repay the faith shown in him by not only Mourinho but the club, and his coach wisely chose not to look through the eyes of the carcass eating hyenas that disguise themselves as journalist but rather decided to give him time. And how that time has come, this season Kaka has grabbed his chance by the balls (pun intended) and so far has scored two and assisted four goals in eight games, played extraordinary with Ozil, Ronaldo and Higuain (another who the media tried to devour) and now the question has become, where does Ozil fit in, rather than what team will Kaka be sold to in January?
This is the greatest gift that football has received this year, one of the few good men left has defied the odds and is now rubbing his critics’ noses in it, if it were any other man, say for example, the taker of the tomahawk free-kicks, he might go to say how he’s too good or handsome but this one ladies and gentleman, kills you with his modesty and genuine kindness. He only thanks those who stuck with him, refusing to curse the ones that doubted, pointing the sky still in praise to the God he claimed saved his life as a child, scoring and assisting beautiful goals, smiling again, a smile that challenges the joy brought by a fellow Brazilan magician albeit less handsome.
You could not tell in 2012 that this was the same man who was being cursed in every Goal.com article as being past it and useless yet with him regaining form, football, with all of its eccentric and over the top characters, finally gets one of the few good men it has back. Barring Arsenal winning the Champions League, this will be the best thing to happen to football this year.
Written by Zito Madu
Follow him @zitov2