It is now official – Milan star Kaka is the 2007 Player of the Year after he was assigned the Ballon d’Or.
The Brazilian had been the over-riding favourite since voting began among the journalists all over the continent.
Previously known as the European Player of the Year award, organisers ‘France Football’ have recently extended the competition to those all over the world.
He absolutely dominated with 444 votes, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, 277) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona, 255). The same trio are shortlisted for the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
The other Serie A representatives in the top 10 are Milan teammate Andrea Pirlo in fifth position, Inter’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic in seventh place and Francesco Totti in 10th.
“It was an exceptional year and the Ballon d’Or crowns an extraordinary 2007,” said Kaka as he accepted the award in Paris.
“I want to thank God who allowed me to be here today. I thank my wife, my parents and Milan, the team that allowed me to win.
“I also thank my teammates, both at Milan and Brazil, and all of the fans.”
Kaka was the hot favourite after winning the Champions League – where he was top scorer with 10 goals – and the European Super Cup with the Rossoneri.
"It's the top prize around and the only way to win something like this is to play for a team like Milan," he said. "It's great to be part of a team that wins."
In October Kaka was named FIFPro World Player of the Year, voted for by 45,000 members of the players' union.
‘Ricky’ succeeds Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro, who won both the 2006 Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year trophies after his World Cup triumph.
In all eight Ballon d’Ors have gone to Milan players after Gianni Rivera (1969), Ruud Gullit (1987), Marco van Basten (1988, ’89, ’92), George Weah (1995) and Andriy Shevchenko (2004).
“I have always said I want to become a symbol for Milan, the captain of this squad and I believe the best person to learn from is Paolo Maldini, who has played for the same club his whole life and won so much,” continued Kaka.
“I have just started my career, I am winning and he can set the best example for all of us here, as we are all winners.”
Since joining the Rossoneri for under £6m in the summer of 2003 Kaka has won the Scudetto, Champions League, two European Super Cups as well as three Oscar del Calcio – including 2006 Serie A Player of the Year – and UEFA 2007 Player of the Year.
“I am more mature, have more experience and learned so many things. I can put all that on to the field and this is why I score more goals and can play with more consistency, but that can only improve over time.”
The only trophy missing from the prodigious 25-year-old’s mantelpiece is now the Club World Cup, which Milan will aim for later this month.
“The competition in Japan is all I am missing now. This is the most important for a South American, as I grew up knowing this is the best there is, as you can only play in it if you win the Copa Libertadores. I lost in 2003, but now I want to win.”
Kaka was among the Rossoneri who lost the Intercontinental Cup to Boca Juniors in December 2003.
1) Kaka` (Brazil, Milan) 444 points
2) Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Manchester United) 277
3) Leo Messi (Argentina, Barcellona) 255
4) Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea) 108
5) Andrea Pirlo (Italy, Milan) 41
6) Ruud van Nistelrooy (Holland, Real Madrid) 39
7) Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Inter) 31
8) Cesc Fabregas (Spain, Arsenal) 27
9) Robinho (Brazil, Real Madrid) 24
10) Francesco Totti (Italy, Roma) 20
11) Frederic Kanoute` (Mali, Sevilla) 19 u`
12) Ronaldinho (Brazil, Barcellona) 18
13) Steven Gerrard (England, Liverpool) 17
14) Juan Roman Riquelme (Argentina, Boca Juniors-Villarreal) 15
15) Daniel Alves (Brazil, Siviglia) 14
16) Filippo Inzaghi (Italy, Milan) 12
17) Franck Ribery (France, Marseille-Bayern Munich) 10
18) Paolo Maldini (Italy, Milan) 8
19) Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus), Petr Cech (Czech Republic, Chelsea), Gennaro Gattuso (Italy, Milan), Thierry Henry (France, Arsenal-Barcelona), Clarence Seedorf (Holland, Milan) 7
24) Fabio Cannavaro (Italy, Real Madrid), Michael Essien (Ghana, Chelsea) 5
26) Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United) 4
27) Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid), Rogerio Ceni (Brazil, San Paolo) 3
29) Younis Mahmoud (Iraq, Al-Gharafa) 2
30) Dimitar Berbatov (Bulgaria, Tottenham), Samuel Eto`o (Cameroon, Barcelona), Ryan Giggs (Wales, Manchester United), Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico, America Mexico), Carlos Tevez (Argentina, West Ham-Manchester United), Robin van Persie (Holland, Arsenal) 1.