Rafael Leao says Kaka was “a hero of mine at Milan and I’m happy to represent the team he played for”, but Cristiano Ronaldo is his “favourite player”.
Leao opened his account for Milan with a fine finish against Fiorentina during their 3-1 defeat at San Siro last Sunday.
“My celebration was for my dad,” the Portugal Under-21 attacker told DAZN.
“I call him if he can’t see the game. He was very happy and excited about my goal, he cried.
“He saw me grow up and worked hard for me to get here, so he was really happy about my first goal.
“It was a moment of fantasy. I had nothing to lose… I tried to do what I did and it went well. It was an instinctive piece of play.
“I played more in the box for Lille, I didn’t get many one-on-ones. I scored goals but not many feints.
“In Italy, football is different, especially tactically. I’m improving every day. The Coach, whom I consider to be a great one, helps me a lot and I think once I learn the tactics, I’ll be a better player.
“Everyone supports me here, including the Coach. I have to be grateful for the opportunity that was given to me.”
The 20-year-old then highlighted Paolo Maldini’s role in his move from Lille over the summer, while revealing the two Rossoneri players he looked up to.
“Kaka, Ronaldinho, Pato, Robinho, Maldini… [Maldini] called me and it was important that he convinced me by talking to me about the project.
“Since that phone call from Paolo, I didn’t need anything else to accept. Kaka was very strong, very quick.
“He scored many goals in the position he played and he was a hero of mine at Milan. I’m happy to represent the team he played for.
“Rui Costa was also a great player, he’s Portuguese like me. I hope to become a great player and make the difference like he did.”
Naturally, his role model is a certain Portuguese star who plays for Juventus…
“My favourite player is Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s also Portuguese and he inspires me a lot. He’s worked hard to achieve his objectives.
“He’s an idol for me and for every Portuguese. He’s a role model. It’ll be strange to meet him because I’d only saw him on TV or PlayStation… It’ll be a proud moment for me.”
“My first Coach compared me to him, we worked very well together. He expected so much from me, but it’s too much to compare myself to Cristiano…”
Finally, Leao gave DAZN interviewers some advice about who to follow on social media.
“Piatek puts good things on Instagram Stories, Paqueta’s also good. After them, you have to follow me because I’ll score lots of goals if you do!”