Brazil international Kaka lauded Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, saying he was the last Ballon d’Or winner to be “born on this planet”.
Then at Milan, the attacker secured the coveted individual honour in 2007ahead of Ronaldo and Messi – who have shared it in the seven years since.
Orlando City’s Kaka, 33, said it was an honour to win an award as he paid tribute to what his successors have managed to do since.
“Ronaldinho, Cristiano, Messi and myself are the only Ballon d’Or winners who are still playing,” he told Marca.
“It fills me with pride to stand alongside these great players, and to be the last player to have won the award before Messi and Ronaldo.
“You could say that I was the last Ballon d’Or winner to have been born on this planet.”
Kaka’s Milan career was followed by a less impressive stint at Real Madrid, where he struggled for game time under Jose Mourinho.
But the attacking midfielder, a UEFA Champions League, Serie A and La Liga winner, said his relationship with Mourinho was fine.
“I always acted very professionally and respected the decisions he made. My relationship with him wasn’t bad,” Kaka said.
“It’s true that there were certain things that I didn’t agree with, but I had no choice but to keep on working hard, and that’s just what I did.
“And you know what? For me, it was rewarding to hear what he said about me when we both left the club. When he was asked about me, he said that I was a top professional.”
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