Kaka wins Ballon d'Or award

AC Milan's Brazilian attacking midfielder Kaka was named on Sunday as France Football's Player of the Year, winning the prestigious Ballon d'Or award.

Born under the name of Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, he succeeds Italy's FIFA World Cup™-winning captain and defender Fabio Cannavaro and comes two years after the last Brazilian winner of the trophy, Barcelona's Ronaldinho.

The 25-year-old Kaka notably played a starring role in AC Milan's triumphant UEFA Champions League campaign, scoring ten goals and setting up the winner for Filippo Inzaghi in the final against Liverpool.

He received 444 points in the France Football vote, easily ahead of Manchester United's Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo, who had 277, with Barcelona's Argentinian star Lionel Messi in third with 255 points.

"This is very special for me - it culminates an astonishing year for me," Kaka said. "The only way to win something like this is to play for a team like AC Milan. It's great to be part of a team that wins."

Born in the capital Brasilia, Kaka started off with Sao Paulo before moving to Europe with AC Milan in 2003. He has been capped 54 times for his country and scored 19 goals. He was a member of Brazil's 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup squads.