20 January, 2009

For Kaka, money is not everything

I don’t know about you, but that sentence warms my heart in the ice cold greedy cynicism of the modern game. Obviously in high profile cases like this it’s hard to separate to media spin from the truth, but regardless, Milan and Manchester have basically been circuses the last fortnight, with tales of arguments, agreements and shifting loyalties almost daily. Today though, the deal is officially off, and more than anything, I for one am relieved. I genuinely feel that had Kaka taken the money and gone to Eastlands then, on some level, my love of football would’ve died too. You see, it's hard to articulate, but personally Kaka is so much more than just one of the greatest talents of the modern era. His attitude, his commitment, his desire to be a winner represents football in its purest and most passionate sense, and had he turned his back on that pretty unique sense of class, then it would mean that everyone truly has their price, and world club football all starts to look fairly meaningless.

Anyway, Italian Prime Minister and Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi explained the Brazilian superstar had decided to snub the £243million deal himself: “It was Kaka who decided to stay. He didn’t even want to listen to the offer, which I believe was very big for him. He chose to stay at this club because he thinks it’s the best club in the world.” This came just hours after hundreds of fans besieged the headquarters of the Italian giants to voice their anger about the possible sale of their idol, and the hardcore fan firm known as the tifosi even held a vigil outside the star’s home.

Berlusconi added: “He is loved by everyone. He was touched by the love of the fans and was moved by his team-mates and all the staff. He has accepted to stay with the contract he has and will not ask for more money. He has confirmed he doesn’t want a penny more, because money is not everything in life. In these last few days he has understood there are more important things than money. We are proud to have such a champion, who is a great player on the pitch but also a big man outside. He refused an offer I believe would have doubled what he earns with us.” After Berlusconi announced the breakdown of talks live on Sky Italia TV, the Brazilian went out on to his flat’s balcony to greet hundreds of fans celebrating the news outside his home. The club president added: “He’s a very spiritual lad and that was what led to his decision, which one has to admire. You can’t refuse a lad who has five or six good years left the chance to create a fortune that will last the rest of his life. So we gave him the opportunity to evaluate their offer. But he didn’t even want to meet the club, because he has higher values. I hope we’ll carry on having success — and with Kaka, everything is possible.”

Kaka himself offered a statement late last night, admitting: “I did what my heart told me to do. At the end what counted was my history, where my ties are and where my heart really lies. I was moved by what fans showed me. I am really happy at this club. All the messages I received meant so much and forced me to choose with my heart. Going to Manchester City could have been a great project but I have prayed a lot in the last few days, looking to understand which was the right team for me and in the end I decided to stay here.”

Ok so this all might seem like a bit of an uncharacteristic circle-jerk for STT, but occasionally when the true balance of this game we all love is threatened, you have to put sarcastic rhetoric and irreverence aside. In a very real sense this transfer could have been the beginning of the end, even more so than the early Abramovich days at Chelsea, and to have a player personally put a stop to it and make a stand against money in favour of club loyalty is actually pretty moving. I’m not sure there are many other players out there that I could actually say this about, but more than anything else, I respect Kaka.

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