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Italian Serie A
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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Kaka announces retirement amid links to AC Milan return

The ESPN FC crew reflect on Kaka's career as the Brazilian announced his retirement on Sunday.
Relive the career highlights of Kaka since his move to Orlando City as he's set to leave the club at season's end.

Kaka has announced his retirement from professional football, saying, "I'm now ready for the next journey."

He confirmed his retirement on his official Twitter account, saying: "Father, It was much more than I could ever imagined. Thank you! I'm now ready for the next journey. In Jesus name. Amem."

The former Brazil international has, along with Sao Paulo, been linked with a return to AC Milan, where he won the Champions League, Serie A and the Ballon d'Or during the peak of his career.

Speaking to Globo on Sunday, he described his decision to call it quits.

"I needed time to think and take a very calm decision, very calm and very aware of what I will want for my professional life," Kaka said. "Then I asked some people very close to me -- my parents, my brother, my girlfriend and my brother's wife, there are five people -- I asked them to pray.

"And studying, seeing what happened in this moment, proposals. I went to Europe to watch some games, to feel the emotion of the game there, where football really has its highest point. And very aware, I came to a conclusion that it's time to end my career as a professional footballer."

He was back at the San Siro last month, taking in the Rossoneri's 5-1 Europa League win over Austria Vienna after spending the day visiting the club's new headquarters and meeting with the Serie A club's new owners.

During those meetings, there was talk of him being offered a director's role, but he did not commit at that time due to uncertainty over whether he would continue playing.

"A new stage of preparation comes. Now I will prepare myself to continue in football and to have another role, but it will not be as a professional player, athlete," he told Globo. I would like to take part in a club in a form more ... a manager, a sporting director, someone that stays between the pitch and the club.

"I prepared myself a lot to be a professional footballer and I want to prepare myself for this new role, I want to see and observe a little from afar. The fact that I've had successes as a professional footballer doesn't mean that I will be a good director or not. So I want to prepare myself for this from now on, to study, to follow, to be closer to some clubs, principally those at which I played.

"Milan recently made that proposal so that I had there in the day-to-day of the club. These are things I will start to prepare myself for, and from here on to approach another role in football."

Kaka joined Orlando City from Milan in 2014 and spent three seasons with the club before departing earlier this year.

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