AC Milan superstar Kaka has been crowned as FIFA’s World Player of the Year, beating off competition from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Kaka has had a glittering year for AC Milan, during which they won the Champions League, and has won the Ballon d’Or award for the European footballer of the year, FIFPro’s world player of the year voted by fellow professionals and World Soccer’s player of the year.
Argentina forward Messi came second, and Portuguese winger Ronaldo was in third place.
Kaka said at the awards ceremony at Zurich’s Opera House: “Tonight is a really special night for me – it was a dream for me just to play for Sao Paulo and one game for Brazil. But the Bible says God can give you more than you even ask for.”
Ronaldo, 22, said he was hugely honoured to be short-listed for the award – which has never been won by a Premier League player.
He added: “I was so pleased when I got nominated. The first thing I did was tell the people closest to me.
“I called my mother and told her, and then my brother and my sister.
“It’s a real honour for me to be considered one of the three best players in the world.”
The award is voted on by all national team managers and captains, and this year’s shortlist contains three young players nominated for the first time.
Kaka, 25, said: “It shows that this is a new era in football, a new cycle is starting.
“They were great players before, but now the new players are starting to make history.”
Messi, aged just 20, added: “To be chosen among the top three when I am so young is a great honour, and I just want to keep improving and working hard on the pitch.”
Pele was given the FIFA presidential award, causing the great Brazilian to break down in tears.
“My father told me it was a gift from God to play football,” said Pele after picking up the award.
In the women’s player of the year, Brazil’s Marta won the award for the second year running – beating Germany’s World Cup-winning captain Birgit Prinz, three times a former award winner, and another Brazilian Cristiane.