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Kaka

The 2005 Champions League final will go down in history as one of the great sporting comebacks. Three goals down at the interval, Liverpool produced a remarkable revival to level things up at 3-3 against AC Milan before winning the penalty shootout.

 

As a result, tales of Didi Hamann's half-time intervention, the Herculean efforts of Steven Gerrard and Jerzy Dudek's spaghetti legs will be the focus of after-dinner speeches on Merseyside for years to come.

History is written by the winners. But the highlights reel belongs to Kaka. The bursting run leading to Andriy Shevchenko's disallowed goal makes it, as does the deliciously dinked through-ball enabling the same player to square for Hernan Crespo to double the lead. It's the third goal minutes later that really astonishes. A sway of the hips leaves Gerrard in his wake before an angled long pass cuts through the heart of the Liverpool defence. Crespo finishes. Game over.

Of course, despite Kaka also netting in the shootout, there was a very different outcome and Gerrard - having caused Guardian MBM writer Barry Glendenning to wonder at half-time "how badly does he have to play before his legions of cheerleaders in the media will put down their pom-poms and pass comment on it?" - got to walk away with the man of the match award.

Two years later, Milan enjoyed a revenge of sorts. Again, there was a two-goal striker to get his name in the record books. But once more, the magic came from Kaka - his measured pass to Pippo Inzaghi late in the game setting up the arch-predator for what turned out to be the winning goal. At the age of 25, Kaka belatedly had his Champions League victory.

The UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup followed later that year to go with the Serie A title he had earned in his first season with the Rossoneri. There was already a World Cup winners medal to his name, claimed as a 20-year-old talent (who saw 20 minutes of pitch action) before even leaving Sao Paulo for Europe. There were individual honours too. The Ballon d'Or in 2007 and a guaranteed place in football's hall of fame. So much so young.

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