Kaka surprised by return to Brazil national squad


SAO PAULO (AP) -Kaka admits he was surprised to be called up to the Brazil squad again after failing to secure a regular start for Real Madrid.

The playmaker was one of 23 players summoned by coach Mano Menezes on Thursday for Brazil's friendlies against Iraq and Japan in October, and will be making his return to the national team for the first time since the 2010 World Cup.

"It was a surprise, I didn't expect it," Kaka told Brazil's Radio Bandeirantes. "People started messaging me that there could be a surprise in the list and the expectations grew a bit. I was on alert at the time of the announcement and when it came out and I saw my name in the list everyone was really happy here. The kids, my wife, everybody really enjoyed that I was back."

Menezes had said recently that he didn't intend to summon Kaka again until he started playing regularly, but the coach said that the player's determination to regain his form and his place as a Real Madrid starter played a role in his decision to bring him back now.

Kaka said he was glad that his hard work has paid off.

"I didn't talk to (Menezes), it's been a while since I last talked to him," Kaka said. "I think he got information about me from other people, for sure. What I've been doing is work hard to get myself ready, practicing a lot to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that may appear with Real Madrid and now the national team."

Kaka played for Madrid's reserve team in a friendly against Millionarios of Colombia on Wednesday, scoring three goals in an 8-0 win, but Menezes said he had already made up his mind about getting Kaka back in the team before the friendly.

Menezes said that having an experienced player like Kaka will be important in a team filled with young promising stars.

Kaka agreed.

"I know that from personal experience," the 30-year-old playmaker said. "These players are fundamental. In 2002, when I was in the team which won the World Cup, my references were Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, who were older. I was only 20 years old at the time and I learned from them. It was key to be with them and watch them."

Kaka also played in the 2006 World Cup and the 2010 tournament, which marked his last appearance with the national team. He was a starter in the team's quarterfinal loss to the Netherlands.

Menezes had picked Kaka in a squad for friendlies last year, but the player didn't join the team because of an injury.

Newly Chelsea signing Oscar has become Brazil's starting playmaker at midfield, but Menezes has already said that he can play alongside Kaka in midfield. The coach has already said that Kaka and Oscar will likely start together in at least one of the upcoming friendlies.

Brazil will play Iraq in Sweden on Oct. 11 and Japan in Poland on Oct. 16.

Menezes has been heavily criticized recently in Brazil as he tries to prepare the team for the 2014 World Cup and next year's Confederations Cup, and if Kaka performs well again, the former star hopefully will help fend off some of the current critics against the national team.

"I think I'm ready," Kaka said.


Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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