THE LUNGS OF BRAZIL

M arcos Evangelista de Morais, known as Cafu [kaˈfu], was born on 7 June 1970, in Itaquaquecetuba, Brazil (a municipality in the state of São Paulo), Marcos, as he was christened, was one of six children, all of whose names begin with M (Mara, Margareth, Marcelo, Mauricio and Mauro) and was raised in the rugged yet homely Jardim Irene favela, where everyone knew everyone but trust was in short supply - criminality was rife.

The 'Cafu' moniker was thrown his way in boyhood, a reference to a dynamic right-wing, Cafuringa, who played for Fluminese and Atlético Mineiro at the time. At the age of seven, he was able to attend a football academy and soon moved up to the junior sides of Nacional-SP, Portuguesa and Itaquaquecetuba. His insatiable thirst for the game led to him exploring the local futsal leagues, utilising them to hone his burgeoning technical attributes as well as his sprint endurance. In the early 1980s Cafu was rejected from the youth squads of Corinthians, Palmeiras, Santos, Atlético Mineiro, and Portuguesa. It was not until 1988 that he had the chance to audition for his home town club... Sao Paulo. who in recent years had been home to superstars Careca and Falcão.

Cafu's audition didn't quite go to plan. Sao Paulo's academy coach Carlinhos Neves was apprehensive about Cafu's lack of physicality and consequently didn't pull the trigger It was an all too familiar story for Cafu and after years of rejection, it would have been understandable if he just packed it in. But natives of Jardim Irene never quit and Cafu continued to train hard for Itaquaquecetuba... preparing for that final shot which could come at any moment. As chance would have it, Itaquaquecetuba were to play a friendly against Sao Paulo and Cafu seized his chance, starring on the right (deployed as a Jairzinhoesque right winger) under Neves' watchful gaze and finally earning himself a contract at one of Brazil's leading clubs.

EARLY CAREER

EARLY YEARS AT SAO PAULO (1989-1991)

1989/90 Season

Cafu warmed the first team bench as São Paulo went on to win the 1989 Campeonato Paulista. He was operating as a winger at this juncture of his career but in truth by Brazilian standards, he was more of a Ji-Sung Parkesque workhorse than a Garrincha and it was clear to the manager, Tele Santana - responsible for assembling the exquisite 1982 World Cup Brazil side - that Cafu's irrepressible industrious zeal was better appreciated further away from goal. Fate was clearly singing from Santana's hymn sheet as Sao Paulo’s right-back, Ze Teodoro, got injured which allowed the coach to put his Cafu hypothesis into practice.

Impressed with the young Brazilian's attempts at grappling with his new role - Santana believed he was watching a potential international star. Whilst Cafu was overjoyed to be breaking into the first team, he struggled to tolerate the continuous defensive responsibility. He had enjoyed tracking back as a winger but at full-back defensive shifts were non-negotiable. Despite this, Cafu grew into the role as Sao Paulo pushed their way into the title race... putting pressure on rivals Corinthians.

Soon having a running start allowed Cafu to motor past opposition wide players which enhanced his attacking threat and his electrifying performances didn't go unnoticed by the National Team selectors. Santana the visionary was proven right - Cafu's transition to right back was beginning to reap dividends on the international stage. He earned his first cap in a friendly against Spain on 12 September 1990.

1990/1991 Season

Cafu went from strength to strength during the 1990/1991 season as he developed more poise in possession. He played a pivotal role as Santana won his first title, winning the Brazilian championship after beating Carlos Alberto Parreira's Bragantino. This sparked a period of consistent achievement both nationally and internationally.

1991/1992 Season

The following year Sao Paulo reached the Copa Libertadores final, where they faced Newell's Old Boys of Argentina. São Paulo lost the first leg 1–0, but reversed the scoreline in the second leg in Brazil, with Cafu in particularly fine fettle before edging the competition in the penalty shoot-out to take the title for the first time. Footage from this game shows a young Cafu full of flair, at his most nimble and never passing up an opportunity for an overlap. He was growing in confidence from a defensive perspective, ever mindful of runs in behind but revolutionary in the way his first thought was to get beyond his winger, overlapping at full speed from the first minute to the last.

1992/1993 Season

The following season with the emergence of Vitor and keen to utilise Cafu's increasingly penetrative attacking forays, Santana took to occasionally redeploying Cafu at right wing. He was back at right back however when he put in an iconic display against Palmeiras, enabling Sao Paulo to secure a 4-2 victory in the first-leg of the final in Brazil’s top tier. He was involved in all four goals, scoring one – a stunning volley with his weaker left foot – assisting two and winning the penalty for the fourth. Sao Paulo would go on to win the second leg to claim their 18th championship.

Intercontinental Cup FInal 1992

The next test, barely a week later was no ordinary one... Sao Paulo were to face off against Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona, the champions of Europe, in order to win the Intercontinental Cup. Despite a bright start in Tokyo, Sao Paulo saw themselves 1-0 down after a typically astonishing finish by Hristo Stoichkov. Sao Paulo nevertheless wrestled the game away from the Catalans with Rai the hero of the hour with a brace. At the end of the season to top things off, Cafu won his second successive Copa Libertadores title as Sao Paulo defeated Chilean outfit Universidad Católica 5-3 over two legs.

'REAL' INTEREST

1993/1994 Season

During pre-season, Cafu's emerging excellence on the big stage had begun to make waves in Europe, with Real Madrid expressing an interest to sign him. Unfortunately the Sao Paulo club president threatened to resign and what would have been an historic move for Cafu was prevented from going through... Madrid had to make do with signing Cafu's backup Vitor, who was recently voted the 5th worst signing in Real Madrid's history. As if to rub further salt in to Real Madrid's wounds, Cafu and Sao Paulo were on a quest to defeat another European heavyweight on the big stage.

Intercontinental Cup Final 1993

Having won the Supercopa Sudamericana and Copa CONMEBOL, Sao Paulo faced AC Milan in the final of the Intercontinental Cup. It wasn't a vintage Milan side, with the famous Dutch trio no longer a part of their club (Van Basten had effectively retired at this point) but it did still possess the likes of Maldini, Baresi and Desailly. The stage was set for a titanic duel between Cafu and Maldini on the same flank... Cafu set the tone with a series of majestic runs down the right, outpacing and out powering the Italian who was taken aback by the irrepressible Brazilian. He eventually provided the assist for the first goal with a wonderfully volleyed cross splitting the Milan defence and finding Palinha who opened the scoring.

In the second half Cafu was forced to do more defending and was caught ball-watching from a cross, which enabled Massaro to level the score. What followed was a to and fro game with plenty of action, Cerezo making it 2-1 before Papin levelled the scoring once again. With injury time approaching the aptly named Muller struck to make it 3-2 to the Brazilians, another European giant put to the sword. Another feather in Cafu's bow, but little did he realise he would be lining up for the Rossoneri a decade down the line.

FIFA WORLD CUP 1994

Group Stages and Knockouts

Cafu was selected by Carlos Alberto Parreira for the 1994 World Cup Squad, as a backup to the more established Jorginho. Cafu relished the competition and trained relentlessly but it was to no avail as Jorginho was favoured for the entirety of the group stage. Cafu did make it on as a substitute but it was for Zinho, a forward and he filled in as a hard-working winger, plugging gaps. He was then brought on in injury time for the Quarter-Final against Netherlands, a pulsating encounter which ended 3-2 to Brazil. He didn't even get off the bench for the tight semi-final against surprise package Sweden.

The Final

It it is safe to say this wasn't the debut World Cup Cafu had in mind. Nevertheless Cafu applied himself diligently in training biding his time, ever hopeful his moment would come. It duly came, in the Final of all occasions... with Jorginho pulling up after 20 minutes. It was time for Cafu to make his mark and transition from accomplished domestic player to national team icon. Make an impact he did as he rampaged down the right flank, a constant outlet for Brazil who through Cafu were now successfully pinning Italy back. His crossing wasn't at its best but Italy were keen to reduce the threat that the flank posed and in the second half, Maldini reverted back to a left back position, tasked with keeping Cafu quiet.

It was yet another titanic clash with both players not yielding an inch and at times getting the better of the other to no avail. Whilst history would eventually remember the game as a dour affair marked by Baggio's infamous penalty miss in the inevitable shoot-out as well as Baresi's majestic performance to nullify Romario.. the undercard of Cafu vs Maldini was no less riveting, with both players in their absolute physical prime. A beaming Cafu got the experience he came for and he was now a World Cup winner to boot.

THE NOMADIC PHASE (1994-1997)

Real Zaragoza

After the World Cup, Cafu left Sao Paulo having secured a move to Zaragoza from Spain. A clause in the contract to sell the players prevented him from returning immediately to a great team domestically. Sao Paulo were worried about Parmalat, an Italian company that invested in Palmeiras and had already hired defender Antonio Carlos. But Palmeiras and Parmalat managed to outthink their rivals. Cafu spent a short time in Zaragoza, crippled by a pubis injury and unable to dislodge the local hero Alberto Belsue from the right-back spot. Due to the rumours of Palmeiras circling around him and the fact his contract was only 6 months, one couldn't help but feel that Cafu's heart wasn't in this venture to begin with - thoughts of that aborted move to Madrid occupying his restless mind,

Return to Brazil

Cafu returned to Brazil and signed with Juventude de Caxias, a subsidiary of Palmeiras who were unable to sign Cafu directly. After a brief stint consisting of only two appearances, Cafu finally made the move to Palmeiras where he won the Campeanato Paulista 1996. The team, then commanded by Vanderlei Luxemburg, ended up scoring more than 100 goals in a single season. What was notable about Cafu's performances with Palmeiras was how his attacking game was becoming more accomplished. He scored an increasing number of his goals with his weaker foot. Cafu the supplier was now becoming a match winner in his own right.

LE TOURNOI 1997

Cafu was by now Brazil's premier right back and was to form part of star-studded squad which finally united Romario with the biggest phenomenon in the game at the time, a teenage Ronaldo - the original. Their first task was to feature in a friendly international football tournament held in France in early June 1997 as a warm-up to the 1998 FIFA World Cup. The four national teams participating at the tournament were Brazil, England, hosts France, and Italy, all of whom were blessed in terms of squad strength.

Cafu started the tournament poorly, struggling to control the intelligent and mazy forays of France's young winger Robert Pires and outshone by Roberto Carlos who arguably scored the most iconic free-kick of all time. Carlos' goal was cancelled out by Keller who reacted quicker than Cafu to a rebounded shot and put it away for the equaliser.

In the subsequent fixture against Italy, Cafu was again caught out of position and failed to get back in time to put off Del Piero at the far post. In contrast Roberto Carlos was a menace all game, playing a key role in Brazil coming back from 3-1 down. In the final fixture Brazil faced a buoyant English side which had already secured two victories and would win the tournament irrespective of the result. Brazil for the most part utterly dominated proceedings without Cafu getting out of second gear - the English lacked any threat down the left wing, a problem which would haunt them in the future.

COPA AMERICA 1997

Next stop was the 1997 Copa America where Cafu performed better in what was a festival of football with Brazil winning every match and scoring 22 goals en route to the trophy. Particular highlights were the 7-0 victory in the semi finals against Peru where Cafu grabbed several assists; the first a cut back to Denlison in the first minute, the second a wonderfully flighted cross straight onto the head of the oncoming Leonardo and the third, whilst not strictly an assist, involved a first time cross from Cafu, that caused mayhem in the Peru penalty area allowing Leonardo to stab the ball home. In the final, Brazil struggled in the first half against a spirited Bolivian side but in the second half Ronaldo scored a brilliant left footed finish to put Brazil ahead and they would eventually add a third sealing a 3-1 victory.

DEBUT SEASON AT ROMA

1997/1998 Season

Whilst Cafu's summer performances highlighted his defensive deficiencies, one man who was utterly oblivious to those shortcomings was Roma head coach, Zdeněk Zeman - "the Bohemian" - whose purist ultra-attacking ideology seemed incredibly well-suited to Cafu's kamikaze approach. Zeman had recently been coaching arch rivals Lazio and brought his attacking 4–3–3 with him, resulting in Roma scoring 67 goals, but also conceding 42, an extreme rarity in defensive-minded Italian football. Roma eventually finished fourth, three places above Lazio in the table with Cafu securing a reputation as one of the league's greatest attacking wing-backs for his explosive play down the right.

PEAK PHASE

FIFA WORLD CUP 1998

Group Stages

Cafu now acclimatised to playing in Europe was determined to seize the moment and win a World Cup for real this time not just as a bit-part player. Brazil started the tournament in sluggish fashion as they were almost held by the Scots 1-1, before a well timed run by Cafu allowed him to penetrate the Scottish defence albeit fortunately. In the second fixture Brazil strolled past a spirited Moroccan side 3-0 with Cafu assisting the third goal and in their final fixture a series of missed chances allowed a Norway side fighting for their world cup lives put in a performance of a lifetime as they came back to stun the reigning champions 2-1.

Round of 16

In the round of 16, Brazil romped to victory against Chile 4-1 but it wasn't as easy game from a tactical perspective. Cafu and Carlos had to work diligently to stop the supply of crosses into the box with Salas and Zamorano eager to assert their aerial dominance. In truth there were several near misses in the opening exchanges in favour of the Chileans before a brace for Cesar Sampaio let Brazil run riot.

Quarter Final

In the quarters, Brazil would face a dangerous Denmark side with the Laudrup brothers at the heart of it. Cafu was nowhere to be seen for the first goal which involved a series of Danish raids down Brazil's right flank, which successfully pulled the centre-backs out of position and enabled the Danes to take advantage by flooding the box. Brazil then went all out attack and established a 2-1 lead before Carlos attempted an unnecessary overhead clearance only to spectacularly fail and allow the ball to fall at Laudrups feet.. 2-2. The Dane's then committed the fatal error of giving Rivaldo too much space and he struck a placed shot from distance to score the winner. Cafu who had a subdued and ineffective performance for the most part picked up a second yellow and was suspended for the Semi Final.

The Final

The lead up to the final was blighted by Ronaldo's seizure and potential non-participation. Cafu was one of the first to arrive in his room and was stunned when it was announced he would play. Rocked by the news, Brazil nevertheless started the final in an impressive manner, taking the game to the French. Cafu in his second successive final, once again turned up in the biggest occasion in football and was proving to be a big issue for Lizarazu.. who was unable to bomb forward due to the penetration of Cafu's dangerous well-timed runs.

However against the run of play France took the lead through through a set piece, headed in by the hitherto ineffectual Zidane. Brazil were relying heavily on their talisman, an understandably out of sorts Ronaldo to drag them back in the game but the moment never came and France extended their advantage from another set piece. They would add a third in injury time in the second half. History would remember it as a one-sided final but in truth Brazil were the more effective and enterprising side in open play, their full backs more eye-catching but the injury to Ronaldo and their failure to deal with set pieces would prove their undoing.

FAREWELL TO ZEMAN

1998/1999 Season

Zeman's over-commitment to attacking ideals would come to haunt him the following season as although Roma scored the most goals in Serie A, poor defensive play led to them finish fifth in the table. Roma reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup, but lost to Atlético Madrid. Although Cafu admired Zeman's physical training sessions, there was a growing feeling within the team that Zeman's neglect of the defensive side of the game was beginning to hold Roma back.

1999 COPA AMERICA

Brazil went into the 1999 Copa America with a point to prove after the dissatisfying finish to their recent World Cup campaign. Cafu was appointed the new captain of the national side with the retirement of Dunga and they romped to a 7-0 victory against Venezuela in their first game, Cafu grabbing an assist for the opening goal with a whipped pass across the 6 yard box for Ronaldo to put away, and then for the fifth goal by Ronaldinho. They followed this result with victories against Mexico and Chile to qualify for the quarters where they would faced arch-nemesis Argentina.

In a tense affair, Brazil went 1-0 down from a long range strike from Sorin but got themselves back into the game after a foul on Cafu enabled Rivaldo to curl in a trademark free-kick to level the scores. Brazil then went on the offensive and Ronaldo scored the winner with a placed strike from distance. The next game was a rematch against Mexico who put up a decent fight but were put away 2-0. In the final, Rivaldo who had been outstanding throughout the tournament stole the show yet again with a brace and a brilliant assist for the final goal...but it was Cafu who had the biggest smile, lifting his first and not last international trophy as captain.

CAPELLO'S ROMA

1999/2000 Season

Having lost patience with Zeman, Roma went for Milanese legend... Fabio Capello, a defensive stalwart, known for his pragmatism and win at all costs mentality. The first season didn't go to plan with Roma finishing 6th in Serie A and Capello's newly installed 3-4-1-2 formation taking time to get going. It was curious to see that Capello had decided to give Cafu even more licence to attack than under Zeman... although this was tempered by the fact that there was now three centre backs staying back at all times. Despite the setback in terms of results, the players still believed that under Capello they finally had a manager in charge who was not going to settle for second best for long.

2000/2001 Season

The following season Capello threw down the gauntlet and strengthened Roma's spine by adding Emerson, Walter Samuel and Gabriel Batistuta. Whilst Emerson struggled with injury and was not a hugely influential figure, the Argentine duo found their feet very quickly. Midway through the season in a game against reigning champions and derby rivals Lazio, Cafu produced an iconic moment which would set the tone for the remainder of the season and linger in the memory of football fans all across the globe.

Lazio's best player Pavel Nedved closed down Cafu after a suicidal cross-field switch from Antonio Carlos. A lesser full-back would have crumbled under the ferocious pressure of the Czech Fury burning down upon him, but Cafu elegantly controlled the ball and flicked it over Nedved's head with his weaker foot but he wasn't done with him yet... as Nedved reacted and chased in anger, Cafu unbelievably flicked it over his head again - wrong footing the Czech... before ball-juggling and flicking it over Nedved's head a third time. A humiliated Nedved stood crestfallen... the tone had been set and Roma would go on to secure victory.

With rivals Juventus breathing down their neck, a pivotal encounter was played out at the Stadio Delle Alpi. Juventus stormed into a 2-0 lead, with Del Piero and Zidane targeting Jonathan Zebina knowing full well Cafu was not going to be offering him any protection. However this Roma side held their nerve and fought their way back into the game with Cafu and Candela continuing to ceaselessly rampage down the flanks, Batistuta chasing every lose cause and Totti oozing creativity out of every pore. With the score finishing 2-2, Roma had managed to keep Juve at bay and went on to secure their first Serie A title since 1983.

2001/2002 Season

The following season Roma were aiming even higher and looking to make a splash in the Champions League. Their title defence however was fraught with danger as not only were they facing a revitalised Juventus side which had signed Gianluigi Buffon, Lilliam Thuram and Pavel Nedved but an Inter side spearheaded by a resurgent Christian Vieri. Roma started the season brilliantly and managed to obtain wins against all their big rivals, including Lazio, Juventus and Inter. However Inter's form was even more electrifying and they would top the table, doing so until the last weekend of the season when they were unbelievably pipped to the post by Juventus and somehow ended third behind Roma.

Roma's campaign would eventually run out of steam as they struggled to compete on multiple fronts.

In the Champions League, Roma safely navigated the first group stage along with Real Madrid. In the second group stage, Roma were hurt by their inability to covert strong performances from draws into wins. In the end they could only secure a solitary win despite being unbeaten and it came down to a showdown at Anfield to decide who would go through alongside Barcelona. Roma needed to avoid a defeat by a 2 goal deficit but they wilted under the Anfield floodlights with Gerrard and Heskey putting in outstanding performances and physically outmaneuvering the Italians. Even the normally unflappable Cafu felt the fericity of the Kop at full volume.

THE 2002 FIFA WORLD CUP

Despite the disappointing end to the domestic campaign, the summer was to bring Cafu unsurpassable joy. A shoulder Injury to Roma colleague and compatriot Emerson before the 2002 World Cup led to Luiz Felipe Scolari handing the captaincy back to Cafu. Cafu had long been a trusted confidante of Scolari and both would often discuss tactical endeavours as well as any general issues affecting the squad. It was nevertheless a big show of faith in Cafu who had been stripped of the captaincy after having been sent off during a qualifier against Paraguay and then castigated publicly by the outgoing coach Wanderley Luxemburgo.

Group Stage

In the opening game against Turkey, Cafu vacated his area defensively and was caught out by a run by Hasan Sas who expertly tucked it away. Fortunately Brazil fought their way back and secured a 2-1 win and in the next game Cafu made amends by grabbing an assist against China in a 4-0 victory. In the 5-2 victory Cafu was again at fault for a goal but it was a mere consolation by that stage.

Round of 16

In the first knockout game, they faced Belgium who put in a tremendous rearguard action to deny a rampant Brazil a goal in the first half. In the second half, the tables had turned and it was Belgium who was on the offensive and only some terrific saves from Dida kept the Brazilians in it. Finally a piece of magic from Rivaldo opened the deadlock and Ronaldo added another to send them on their way to the quarters.

Quarter Final

In the quarter-final, Ronaldinho stole the show before getting himself sent off in the second half in what was an iconic encounter against England. his endless running was key in keeping Ashley Cole in two minds whether or not to man-mark Ronaldinho.Cafu benefitted by the lack of natural width down England's left. After seeing off England, Brazil's next encounter and Cafu's first ever semi final was against Turkey, their rivals from the group stage.

Semi Final

A clever toe-poke from Ronaldo sent Brazil on their way, but before that Cafu was denied his 'Carlos Alberto' moment by the acrobatic Rustu. In the final, Brazil faced off against a weakened Germany side who were missing the suspended Michael Ballack. The final marked Cafu's third consecutive appearance in a World Cup Final, a feat that is yet to be accomplished by any other player in the history of the tournament.

Final

Germany put up strong resistance and mirrored Brazil's formation with Oliver Kahn continuing his brilliant form. However Kahn was to blame in the end for Ronaldo's opener as a spillage from what should have been a routine save fell right at the feet of the legendary Brazilian. 10 minutes later Ronaldo had struck again and Cafu was officially a two-time world cup winner. As Cafu hoisted himself onto the glass platform with the help of Sepp Blatter and Pele, his t shirt emblazoned with the words “100% Jardim Irene”.

FAREWELL TO ROMA

2002/2003 Season

After the summer from heaven came the season from hell as Roma crashed and burned in the league finishing 8th. There was a number of decisions which went against Roma at the start of the season, with rumours surrounding the validity of the officiating bubbling under the surface. These accusations would come to the fore during the Calciopoli scandal in 2006 but for now it would succeed in providing the death knell to any domestic hopes. Furthermore Batistuta's injuries robbed Roma of their focal point and there was an overreliance on Totti to provide assist and goals making Roma a more predictable and one-eyed threat to deal with.

In the Champions League, Roma were once again pitted against Real Madrid in the first group stage and just like the year before, secured safe passage into the next round. In the second group stage, Roma faced a tough opening fixture against a side that would later be remembered as the 'Invincibles'.. Arsene Wenger's Arsenal. After a cheeky opening goal by the precocious Antonio Cassano, Arsenal immediately struck back through Thierry Henry who targeted the area vacated by Cafu and got in behind Panucci to perform a trademark finish to the far post.

Henry then scored a second after Panucci failed to win a header and a dumbfounded Cafu didn't react quickly enough before securing a hat trick with a wonderfully taken free-kick. This game would set the tone for what would be a disastrous second stage for Roma as they went out bottom of the group with Cafu very much looking his age.

LATE CAREER AND RETIREMENT

POSTPONES RETIREMENT TO JOIN MILAN

2003/2004 Season

With an awful final campaign for Roma, Cafu had pretty much given up on his dream to win the European Cup and aged 32 - was on his way to Japanese side Yokohama Marinos for the start of the 03/04 season. However 15 days before his presentation in Japan was due to take place Milan contacted Cafu with an offer to extend his stay in Italy, Mindful of the fact it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to play for one of the world's all-time leading clubs and with time ticking, Cafu immediately contacted Yokohama, explaining what had happened and reimbursed them for all the costs incurred in respect of the proposed move.

The Milanese media initially expected Cafu to play a bit part role but his tremendous work-ethic during preseason convinced Ancellotti that there was still life in the old dog just yet and he fought his way into the starting lineup, refusing to relinquish it for the entire season. With the rapid development of Kaka and the successful integration of Cafu, Milan managed to claim its first league title for five seasons, following an impressive display of offensive and defensive skills. Season rivals Roma both scored more and conceded fewer goals than Milan, but the effectiveness the Milanese showed in tight matches ensured their winning margin was an impressive 11 points.

TURKISH TRAGEDY

2004/2005 Season

The following season, Milan finished runners up in the league as Juventus signing Zlatan Ibrahimović hit the back of the net 16 times in his debut Serie A season. Another signing, Fabio Cannavaro, gave the Bianconeri the stability it had lacked in the 2003–04 season. Juventus conceded just 27 goals throughout the league season and this, combined with the 67 goals scored, gave the club both the best defence and best attack of 2004–05 in Italy. In the Champions League, Milan eased past the likes of Manchester United and rivals Internazionale before edging a strong PSV side to reach their second Champions League final in 3 years.

Champions League Final

In the final Milan got off to a flying start with Maldini hitting a wonderfully placed volley from a Pirlo set piece. They then began to run away with it, with Kaka running the show which laid the platform for a brace by an unerringly clinical Crespo. 3-0 up and with Liverpool staring at the depths of the abyss, Cafu and his colleagues walked into the half time dressing room with the trophy already in their grasp.

During the break, Liverpool underwent a tactical reshuffle, deploying a 3–5–2 designed to exploit the lack of natural width in Milan's diamond and exert pressure on Maldini and Cafu by utilising Riise and Šmicer on the flanks. Hamann also came on as a substitute, freeing up Steve Gerrard to play as an attacking midfielder. It seemed to have an effect as on the 54th minute, Cafu failed to close down a Riise cross in the second half and a liberated Gerrard climbed above Jaap Stam to plant it into the bottom right corner.

Minutes later, the unlikely Vladimir Smicer had come off the flank to drill a long distance shot to make it 3-2... the comeback was officially on. On the 60th minute, Cafu could only watch on as a now rampaging Gerrard drove into the box, only to be felled by an increasingly overwhelmed Gattuso. Alonso who had been selected as the penalty taker pre-match, went on to miss the penalty before fortuitously slamming in the rebound. 3-3.

Despite Milan temporarily losing their heads, they managed to dominate the remainder of proceedings, creating a plethora of opportunities. Nevertheless the Gods of Football were firmly rooting for team from Merseyside at this stage and a divinely inspired Jerzy Dudek kept Liverpool's hopes alive with a series of phenomenal saves. He saw them safely through to the penalty shoot-out and then with scenes reminiscent of Bruce Grobbelaar 's heroics in the 1984 European Cup Final, Dudek psyched out the Milanese artillery... dramatically saving a sudden death penalty from none other than reigning Ballon D'or winner Shevchenko to give Liverpool their 5th European title.

CALCIOPOLI SCANDAL

Cafu and Milan struggled to deal with the aftermath of the European Cup Final defeat and finished the 2005/2006 season trophyless. Cafu's misery was compounded with the explosion of the Calciopoli scandal which engulfed the elite of Italian football including Milan. Rivals Juventus were relegated and Milan would start the following season with an 8 point deduction.

THE 2006 FIFA WORLD CUP

Keen to overcome his club woes, Cafu would oversee a disastrous showing at the 2006 World Cup as Brazil meekly exited in the quarter-finals after a 1–0 defeat by France. Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira was criticized for featuring fading veterans, most notably Cafu himself and 33-year-old Roberto Carlos, in the starting XI ahead of younger players. Cafu was one of only a few Brazil players who spoke to the press in the midst of a hailstorm of criticism from Brazilian fans and media alike following the team's return home.

REDEMPTION FOR MILAN IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Milan suffered a hangover from the Calciopoli scandal going into 2006/2007 season with an 8-point penalty leaving them with an uphill task to regain Serie A. Their fortunes would get worse before they got better - failing to win for 9 matches in a row which left them in a lowly 15th place on only 11 points. Once again it was Europe that would prove their saviour, overcoming Celtic in the round of 16, Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, Manchester United in the semi-finals and Liverpool in the final avenging their defeat in Istanbul. Unfortunately for Cafu, Ancelotti chose to deploy the fresher legs of Oddo who retained his place through the entirety of Milan's cup winning campaign.

RETIREMENT

Despite the disappointment of not playing a key role in the Champions League redemption arc, Cafu signed a contract extension in May 2007 that would keep him with Milan until the end of the 2007–2008 season, during which he won another UEFA Supercup, and his third World Title at Club level and now his first FIFA Club World Cup. Domestically and in Europe, Milan struggled finishing fifth and being knocked out of the Round of 16 respectively as Father Time finally began to outgun the famous 'Milanese Lab'. On 16 May 2008, it was announced that Cafu and compatriot Serginho would be leaving Milan at the end of the season. In Cafu's last game of his Milan career, and maybe his footballing career, he scored a goal in their 4–1 victory over Udinese.

POST RETIREMENT

Post retirement Cafu has dedicated himself to charitable work, including his own Foundation. Fundacao Cafu is located in Jardim Irene where Cafu was born and grew up. His pride and love of this community demonstrated by the words written on his shirt before lifting the 2002 World Cup - "100% Jardim Irene".

TACTICAL ANALYSIS

ICON WHO MADE ATTACKING FULL-BACKS FASHIONABLE AGAIN...

Cafu has secured a legacy as arguably Brazil's most illustrious right back and is perceived by the casual fan as having edged Roberto Carlos as the more majestic and reliable modern full-back. This is in part due to his longevity via his spectacular retirement stint at Milan and in particular his leadership during the 2002 World Cup campaign. Yet it was Carlos who had to combat the likes of Figo and Beckham in his prime whilst also possessing a more spectacular all-round attacking game. Carlos was a reference point for Madrid and Brazil, whereas Cafu was not really a 'spine' player in the same sense for Brazil and Milan (though he was pivotal for Roma and Sao Paulo).

Cafu openly admitted to not possessing the divine footballing brain of his compatriots Carlos Alberto and Djalma Santos... lacking their flawless positional sense and timing of the tackle, as well as their ability to pass out from the back. What he did possess however was a spectacular work-rate and prodigious speed, as well as an irrepressible 'heart' and 'enthusiasm' for the game. Outside of his undeniable physical qualities, it was his crossing in particular which caught the eye - he was able to whip it with wicked curl on the run. Tactically, his searing recovery pace ensured he wasn't a huge defensive liability despite his natural attacking sensibilities.

In conclusion Cafu was undoubtedly one of the games most iconic full-backs, one of the games greatest athletic talents but he wasn't the best right back in Brazilian Football history - let alone the greatest ever full back period.