London: Meet the king of the sporting Twittersphere: Brazilian football superstar Kaka.
The Real Madrid midfielder on Wednesday became the first athlete to amass 10 million followers on the social networking site, joining an elite group which previously contained mostly musicians.
"Thank youuuuu. To celebrate I'll make a twitcam" wrote the 30-year-old Kaka, who at the last count had 10,012,862 Twitter fans.
He's nowhere close to Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber — who each have more than 20 million followers — but it's not a bad haul for a player whose career appears to be on the wane after making himself a global icon in a golden six-year spell at AC Milan in Italy.
Close behind him in the most-followed stakes in the world of sport is Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently broke the 9-million barrier. As far as reputation and public image goes, they couldn't be any more different.
By describing himself as a "Christian, husband and father who loves football" and with an angelic smile on his avatar, Kaka lives up to his image of being one of the most humble players in the increasingly celebrity-driven lifestyle of the modern-day footballer.
In early 2009, he turned down a move to English club Manchester City that would have earned him a reported world-record salary of 500,000 pounds ($800,000) a week.
Kaka moved to Madrid later that year for €65 million (then $92 million), making him the second most expensive football signing ever after Ronaldo. He still plays for the Brazil national team, despite his form having tapered off since moving to Spain.
"Having lunch with my parents and fulfilling the commandment. I missed u guys so much," was one of Kaka's recent tweets, which are written in English, Spanish and Portuguese for his global audience of fans.
He even personally thanked a stream of well-wishers who congratulated him on his 30th birthday on Sunday.
The world's leading sports stars are increasingly turning to Twitter to communicate directly with their fans.
In the United States, retired NBA player Shaquille O'Neal has 5.5 million followers. LeBron James of the Miami Heat has 4.3 million.
In football, England striker Wayne Rooney and Brazil forward Neymar hover around the 4-million mark.
Story first published on: Thursday, 26 April 2012 18:49 IST