AC Milan midfielder Kaka officially left the Serie A club on Monday to join Orlando City Soccer Club.
A statement on the Milan website said it had come to a “mutual agreement (with Kaka) to end the Brazil star’s contract but there is no doubt that the mutual feeling of love and respect will always be there.”
The 32-year-old Kaka scored 104 goals in 307 appearances during his two spells at Milan, either side of a four-year stint at Real Madrid. He also helped Brazil to win the World Cup in 2002.
“I will always be a Milan fan, my heartfelt thanks to everyone,” Kaka said. “I hope to send soon messages to (Milan vice-president Adriano) Galliani that I have sent in the past: we are the champions of Italy, we are the champions of Europe.
“It has been a difficult year for all Milan fans, but for me to come back to Milan, to reach the total of more than 100 goals was important: it was something that I couldn’t not do, to extend my history with this club.”
Kaka will fly to the United States from Brazil on Monday night to sign for Orlando’s new Major League Soccer franchise.
Kaka will return on loan to his first club, Sao Paulo, before joining Orlando City SC in January 2015 prior to its first MLS season.
Kaka, who was named World Player of the Year in 2007, helped Milan to the Champions league title and Serie A success in his first six-year spell at the club before joining Real Madrid in 2009.
His return to the club was less successful and was blighted by an immediate injury layoff, during which he renounced his salary.
Milan finished eighth, failing to qualify for Europe for the first time in 16 years.
“My choice isn’t linked to the fact Milan isn’t playing in the Champions League, it’s something else,” Kaka said. “I won’t anymore wear the number 22, I want to also leave this symbol to the Milan fans. I think I will wear the number eight in Brazil and the 10 in America.
“I took this holiday to think about things, I always said I wanted to play in America one day and now I have reached an agreement to play there. Now I will go on loan to Sao Paolo and then I will start my adventure in America.”