Former Arsenal scout, Sandro Orlandelli, has revealed that Arsene Wenger gave him a job after he recommended he sign Kaka.
Back in 2001, the Brazilian was just a teenager and playing for Sao Paulo but was yet to really make his mark in the first team.
Orlandelli meanwhile was doing an internship with Arsenals’ academy and when he got the chance to speak with Wenger, he had some advice on a young player by the name of ‘Kaka’.
“The way I attracted Arsene Wenger’s attention was interesting,” Orlandelli said to ESPN Brasil. “I was doing an internship at the club, first at the academy.
“In the last week of internship, I received information from a person who was giving me assistance at the clu, saying that in the following week I’d be with the first team, and Arsene Wenger wanted to know me.
“I followed the training sessions, I think that on the penultimate day Arsene Wenger came to me with a paper asking if I knew a player from Brazil who had some quality to play for Arsenal.
“So I, in a very transparent way, said: ‘Look Arsene Wenger, I know a boy who I think has a lot of potential, but I think you don’t know him.
“He thought it was strange – ‘How don’t I know him?’ – because they monitor the entire world.
“I said: ‘because he still didn’t make it to the first team. He’s about to do it. He’s starting to rise in Brazil.’
“He asked: ‘What’s his name?’. I said Kaka – ‘Kaka?’ – So I wrote Kaka, he asked what his position was, and gave me a drawing of a pitch, and I showed the positions he could play.
“After a few months, Kaka showed himself to the world and went to Milan. I think it created some shock for Wenger and they invited me to work for Arsenal.”
At 34, Kaka is now one of the world’s most renowned footballers having played for the likes of Milan and Real Madrid, scoring 155 goals in all competitions.
After signing for MLS side Orlando City in 2014 he went out on loan to his first club, Sao Paulo.
If true, Kaka is just one of many superstars that Wenger missed out on signing although it’s hard to imagine the Frenchman dwelling on it that much. Out of the few world class names Wenger let through his fingers, there are probably dozens of occasions where he dodged a bullet. It’s just the way football is.