Brazilian star Kaká seized the chance to lead Orlando City into Major League Soccer despite receiving more lucrative offers from other suitors around the world, the midfielder told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday.
Speaking to a multinational collection of journalists one day after he became the 2015 expansion club's first Designated Player, Kaká revealed the reasoning behind his Stateside move and outlined his expectations for life in MLS.
“I think this is the right moment for me because I'm not too old and not too young. I have the experience to come and bring things to the league,” he said, explaining that he had both a “dream” and a “desire” to continue his career in North America after more than a decade with European giants AC Milan and Real Madrid. “MLS has a great, great future in soccer … This Orlando City project is so serious, and I'm so happy to be part of this project.”
Joined by Orlando City executives Phil Rawlins and Flavio Augusto da Silva, Kaká noted that this move has been a year in the making.
“It's always hard to get a player on the level of Kaka, because he's a guy who could choose to play anywhere, in any country,” said da Silva. “But in this case it was not so hard because Kaka is a visionary guy. … He believes, like me and like the team, that MLS is going to be one of the biggest leagues in the world. So it was not so difficult, because the vision of the project was the key.”
Kaká said he had previously considered, and ultimately passed on, a similar opportunity with the New York Red Bulls, where his brother Digão played in 2012-13. He also mulled a move to the LA Galaxy when his friend David Beckham was a member of LA's squad.
The 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year will stay sharp via a six-month loan stint with São Paulo, his former club in Brazil, and plans to hit the ground running when Orlando City's first MLS preseason kicks off early next year.
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“MLS is making big steps, big progress,” he said. “I'm not here to retire, I'm here to win.”
Asked about the lure of a DP salary, Kaká said that is only a small part of the story.
“Yes, they are paying me good. I have to say this,” he said. “But I had another opportunity to earn more than they are paying me here. This decision is not about money. I always think about the long-term project. I stayed in Milan for seven years, I played in Madrid for four years … I hope I can stay in Orlando for a long while.”