Kaka: I followed my heart

Brazilian superstar Kaka has revealed that he followed his heart in choosing to stay at AC Milan rather than take up an offer of a reported £15 million a season to join Manchester City. Milan president and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced the news late on Monday to end one of the most dramatic transfer sagas of all time.

City, owned by the Abu Dhabi Group, had bid a reported world record £100 million for the former FIFA World Player of the Year and Milan gave the 26-year-old permission to talk to the English Premier League club. But Kaka has told Milan's official TV channel that the Italian giants' fans had played a significant role in convincing him to stay.

"All the messages I received convinced me to choose with my heart and I think in the end that's what I did. It was definitely not a financial decision," he said. "There were bits of information, claims, a lot of speculation which over these last few days even created a bad impression of my father.

"That's not the case, I've never argued with my father. I always make decisions within the family, my wife has also been wonderful, she helped me a lot and has always supported me in my decisions. My family have been great and never tried to push me one way or another. In the end it is my history which has been decisive, where my legacy is and where in reality my heart is."

It was definitely not a financial decision.
Kaka wanted to stress that there are more important things in football than just money.

Kaka denied that he was using the interest from City to try to get a pay rise at Milan, where he is already supposedly the second highest paid player in Italy behind Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic. "There have also been claims made that every time offers are made for me it's because I want to renew my contract," he added.

"That's not true. Every time a team has come and proposed something to me it's Milan who have tried to please me. For this I have to thank everyone who works at Milan."

Kaka, somewhat diplomatically, described Berlusconi and Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani as incredible people and thanked Milan's technical director and his compatriot Leonardo, a former player at the club. "He is more than a friend, someone who is always close by," he said. "Right now I don't want to change anything, I want some peace and quiet."

A devout evangelical Christian who removes his jersey to display a T-shirt bearing the message 'I Belong to Jesus' whenever Milan win something, Kaka revealed he had prayed a lot over these last few days. It was an emotional and unforgettable night," he said about Monday. "My team-mates have been great, they supported me, they touched me."

Fans who on Monday had protested against the proposed sale outside Kaka's home and Milan's headquarters on Monday quickly began celebrating. "He's staying with us, he's staying with us," went up the cheer after news broke that the Brazilian had rejected City.

Berlusconi, who had previously said Milan could not stand in Kaka's way with such a sum of money on the table, praised the attacking midfielder for rejecting financial riches. "We're all delighted," he said. "But he didn't want to leave even for a perfect offer from Manchester (City) and he said no without even knowing what the offer was.

"Hence, he is staying with us and we can't be anything but delighted because money is important but there are other things more important than money." And the Italian prime minister insisted Milan had never accepted City's bid.

"No, we told Kaka to think about it, as we did with (Andrei) Shevchenko (when he joined Chelsea), we said we didn't want to prohibit someone from considering an offer that was double what Milan could pay, also because it was clear we could not make a counter offer because had we, we would have had to do likewise with all the other players and that wouldn't have been logical or in our budget.

"Kaka never expected us to make an offer and as a fan I have to say I'm delighted." Galliani for his part said Milan's fans had to thank Berlusconi for not taking the money on offer.

"Once more the fans should thank president Berlusconi for his economic strength," he said. "Because there was a strong temptation in front of us and a number that was a stratospheric world record."