Soccer player Kaká is perhaps one of the most recognized athletes of his time. Over the past 12 years , he has played on two Brazilian World Cup squads, been named FIFA World Player of the Year, and helped lead the Brazillian National Football (Soccer) team to the 2002 World Cup Championship.
But despite his fame and fortune, Kaká (his real name is Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite) says he doesn't place his confidence in his ability. Rather, the world-renowned athlete finds his identity in Christ.
"I use a few phrases to let people know a little bit about who I am," says Kaká in an I Am Second video posted ahead of the opening of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil Thursday evening. "One of them is I belong to Jesus, which is a phrase I always wear on a shirt during the most important moments of my professional career."
With the 2014 World Cup games to be hosted in Brazil, Kaká thought he would be able to return to his home town and continue playing for his team. However, due to reasons known only by the Brazilian coach, Kaká was left off the 23-man squad for the 2014 Cup.
Despite his disappointment, Kaká says he is able to remain joyful because he finds his ultimate identity not in soccer, but in Christ.
"In my whole life, Jesus is in first place," he says. "That's why I put that inside my cleats, Jesus in first place, because that is how I think."
The 32 year old soccer star found Christ at the age of 18 after experiencing a severe neck injury that nearly left him paralyzed. During the rehab process, Kaka went on to write a list of 10 goals he wanted to accomplish if he had the opportunity to play soccer again. Trusting God through the entire process, Kaka went on to accomplish every single goal he had on his list.
To honor God in every game he played, the athlete wore "I Believe to Jesus" t-shirts and held two fingers up to the sky after a goal.
"[I do these things to] simply tell the world I belong to Jesus," he explains.
When telling his testimony, Kaká says in the soccer world he is always competing to win and be first place. But when he meditates on God's word, it becomes apparent to him that "Jesus [is] in first place."
"Because even though I am playing against others, and it is important to get there and win, I believe that Jesus is much more important than all of that," he says.
Kaká and his wife, Caroline Celico, are evangelical Christians and members of the Sao Paulo-based Rebirth in Christ Church.