Late evening in Japan and the disconsolate Boca Juniors players
have long since boarded their bus, too dejected even to comment on
their 4-2 defeat. One man in the mood for talking, however, is the
in-demand Kaka, who has kindly agreed to share his views with
FIFA.com in an exclusive chat.
The architect behind AC Milan's latest trophy success, the Brazilian magician is all smiles after scoring in the final and landing the adidas Golden Ball. "It's been an unforgettable evening," he tells us. "It's a new achievement in my career, and like any important victory it's another page in the book of my life."
Proudly clutching his award for player of the tournament, the eternally modest Brazilian playmaker is quick to give credit to his team-mates for his own personal achievement. "I may have won the Golden Ball, but above all this was a brilliant team victory and as far I'm concerned, this award is for the club as a whole. Foremost in my thoughts is the Fondazione Milan [the club's charity foundation], an organisation I'm closely involved with."
With Kaka what you see is what you get. And when the conversation turns to the 2003 final with Boca, the 25-year-old is at pains to reject the merest suggestion that this was a revenge mission. "I've never even thought about it that way. Four years ago it was Boca who deserved to go put their names in the history book. Tonight it was our turn. I'm just happy to have helped AC Milan add their name to the list of tournament winners."
That contribution involved laying on both of Filippo Inzaghi's goals and scoring his side's third on the hour-mark. Make no mistake, the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ champion was the Rossoneri's match-winner.
"Andrea Pirlo's beautiful pass set me up for my goal. All I had to do was accelerate a little and lift my head up to see what was on. There was no one else in a good position, so I tried a shot with my left foot. Any goal that helps your team win is important, and there's no doubt that one was a little special."
With this latest success, the Brasilia-born wizard is ending the year in fine style. Having just helped the Italian giants into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League and after picking up the prestigious Ballon d'Or as European Player of the Year for 2007, he now faces a lightning trip to Zurich for tomorrow's FIFA World Player Gala.
Nominated along with Argentina's Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka hopes to collect enough votes from national team captains and coaches to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award. Not that you will find him taking anything for granted. "Tomorrow is another day. I feel very honoured to be part of a great occasion, but let's just wait and see what happens."