Milan, Italy - Kaka, as a child growing up in the poor cesspool filled slums of Brazil, struggled to overcome the handicap of his name. Jeered by his schoolmates and neighborhood kids alike, Kaka, ironically was always last to be picked when it came to an impromptu football game. Until one day, a child with a more unfortunate name than his moved into the neighborhood.
"I remember that day, as if it was yesterday," recalls Kaka at the FIFA banquet thrown in his honor for winning footballer of the year award. "Before that kid moved into my neighborhood, I was treated like sh*t by everyone."
Not one to hog the spotlight but showing the true meaning of sportsmanship instead, Kaka attributes much of his success to that little boy that took the heat off him so he could excel at perfecting the game of football.
In time, people slowly dropped their social intolerance for Kaka and began to love Kaka and even embrace Kaka as if he were their very own.
The jeers finally turned to cheers in the 2001 season when Kaka made 12 goals for his team Sao Paulo, having just taken the field 27 times. Kaka later went on to establish his dominance on the field, letting no one step on him.
"I really do owe my success to that little boy back in Brazil with a name more unfortunate than mine," said Kaka back at the FIFA banquet. "I know if it wasn't for that little boy that was teased worst than I was that I would not be standing here before you today. So, I would like to raise a toast to that little boy right here. So, if you please, would you join me in doing that right now?"
With tears running down Kaka's face, the crowd stood to their feet to join Kaka in his heartwarming tribute to a long lost childhood friend that played such a central role in his success.
"He's to you, Pe Ness, wherever you are," said Kaka as he raised his glass.
In a touching moment, the banquet hall echo Kaka's sentiment, 'To Pe Ness, wherever you are!"