Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli Euro 2012.jpg
Balotelli training with Italy during Euro 2012
Personal information
Full name Mario Barwuah Balotelli[1]
Date of birth (1990-08-12) 12 August 1990 (age 23)
Place of birth Palermo, Italy
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 12 in)[2]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current club Milan
Number 45
Youth career
2001–2006 Lumezzane
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2006–2007 Lumezzane 2 (0)
2007–2010 Inter Milan 59 (20)
2010–2013 Manchester City 54 (20)
2013– Milan 39 (26)
National team
2008–2010 Italy U21 16 (6)
2010– Italy 29 (12)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 05:59, 18 April 2014 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 18 November 2013

Mario Barwuah Balotelli (Italian pronunciation: [ˈmaːrjo baloˈtɛlli]; born Mario Barwuah; 12 August 1990) is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a striker for Serie A club Milan and the Italian national team.[3][4] He started his professional football career at Lumezzane and played for the first team twice before having an unsuccessful trial at FC Barcelona,[5] and subsequently joining Inter Milan in 2007. Inter manager Roberto Mancini brought Balotelli into the first team, but when Mancini left, Balotelli's disciplinary record fell away. He had a strained relationship with new manager José Mourinho and was suspended from Inter's first team in January 2009 after a number of disciplinary problems.

In March 2010, he came under criticism by Inter fans after he appeared on the Italian TV show Striscia la notizia, wearing an A.C. Milan jersey. This damaged the prospect of him having a long career at Inter, but he did make several appearances after that. With doubts over his career at Inter, former coach Roberto Mancini had since moved to Manchester City and decided to give Balotelli a fresh chance at a new club. He joined Manchester City in August 2010, where his performances and off-field activities continued to be enigmatic and unpredictable. Nicknamed Super Mario,[6] he earned his first cap for the Italian national team on 10 August 2010 in a friendly match against Côte d'Ivoire.

Early lifeEdit

Mario Balotelli was born in Palermo, to immigrants from Ghana.[7] The family moved to Bagnolo Mella in the province of Brescia, Lombardy, when he was two.[8]

In 1993, the authorities suggested he be placed into foster care. The Barwuah family gave up the three-year-old boy to an Italian foster family, the Balotellis.[7][9] His foster parents, Silvia (the daughter of Holocaust survivors) and Francesco Balotelli, who are Jewish-Italian,[10][11][12][13][14] lived in the town of Concesio, Brescia, in northern Italy.[15]

At first, he stayed at the Balotellis during the weekdays, and returned to his biological parents on weekends. But after a while he started to be indifferent towards his biological parents and adopted the surname of the Balotellis, and it was arranged for him to be permanently fostered by the Balotellis.[16]

In June 2012, he dedicated his goals that put Italy in the final of the Euro 2012 soccer championships to his foster mother Silvia, and rushed over to embrace her as she wept after the win.[7][17]

Balotelli had to wait until his 18th birthday to request Italian citizenship, as the Balotellis had not adopted him. Balotelli officially gained citizenship in Concesio on 13 August 2008.[18] After the ceremony he released the following statement:

I am Italian, I feel Italian, I will forever play with the Italy national team.

Mario Balotelli[19]

Mario has three biological siblings: Abigail, Enoch, and Angel Barwuah.[20] Enoch Barwuah, two years his junior, had a trial at English Premier League side Stoke City in December 2011,[21] and Sunderland in January 2012,[22] before signing with Salford City on 16 November 2012.[23] Enoch switched to Maltese Premier League side Qormi in July 2013.[24]

Club careerEdit

LumezzaneEdit

Balotelli began his career at Lumezzane At the age of 15 he was promoted to the first team, making his first team debut in a Serie C1 league match against Padova on 2 April 2006.[8]

Inter MilanEdit

Balotelli with Inter Milan

Having had an unsuccessful trial with Barcelona at the age of 15,[5] Balotelli was signed by Inter Milan in 2006 on loan with a pre-set price of €150,000 to co-own the player.[25] In June 2007 Inter exercised the option and purchased another half for additional €190,000.[25] On 8 November 2007, as part of Sheffield F.C.'s 150th anniversary celebrations, Balotelli featured in a friendly between the two sides at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane. The game finished 5–2 to Inter, with Balotelli scoring twice.[26] He made his first team and Serie A debut on 16 December 2007, replacing David Suazo in a 2–0 win against Cagliari.[27] Three days later he was featured in the starting lineup in a Coppa Italia match against Reggina, scoring two goals in a 4–1 win.[28] Balotelli gained national attention after he scored two goals against Juventus in the return leg of the Coppa Italia quarter-finals, being instrumental in a 3–2 away win for Inter.[29] His first Serie A goal then came in April 2008 in a 2–0 away win against Atalanta.[30] Inter went on to win the 2007–08 Serie A.[31] Balotelli was a substitute in the 2008 Supercoppa Italiana final against Roma. He came on as a replacement for Luís Figo, scoring in the 83rd minute. Inter went on to win the final 6–5 on penalties after the match ended 2–2.[32]

Balotelli in 2009

In November 2008, Balotelli became the youngest Inter player (at 18 years and 85 days) to score in the Champions League when he scored a goal in a 3–3 draw against Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta, beating the previous record set by Obafemi Martins (at 18 years and 145 days).[33] In an April 2009 match with Juventus where he scored Inter's only goal in a 1–1 draw, Balotelli was racially abused by Juventus fans throughout the game. This led Inter owner Massimo Moratti to say that he would have pulled the team off the pitch had he been present.[34] The racist chants were also condemned by Juventus chairman Giovanni Cobolli Gigli and Juventus were given a one game home-fan ban because of the incident.[35] Inter won Serie A for the fourth time in a row.[36]

In his second season with Inter, Balotelli had a number of disciplinary problems, most notably involving head coach José Mourinho who excluded him from the first team in the second half of January 2009. Earlier that season Mourinho had accused Balotelli of showing a lack of effort in training, stating "as far as I'm concerned, a young boy like him cannot allow himself to train less than people like Figo, Córdoba, and Zanetti."[37] Balotelli continued to be the subject of racist chants throughout the season, becoming the focus of Juventus fans even during games not involving Inter, leading to Juventus being fined twice and the club ultimately punished with a partial stadium closure.[38]

Balotelli's disciplinary problems, and his difficult relationship with Mourinho, continued in the 2009–10 season. In November Inter drew 1–1 against Roma and Mourinho criticized his players, even going as far as saying that Balotelli "came close to a zero rating".[39] Balotelli had another negative encounter with Juventus fans in the heated Derby d'Italia encounter in an away match against Juventus on 5 December 2009, which Inter lost 2–1. When he was elbowed by Juventus midfielder Felipe Melo in the shoulder, Balotelli fell theatrically onto the pitch, for which he was booked, while Melo was sent off for a second yellow card. The incident sparked an altercation between Balotelli's teammate Thiago Motta and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.[40][41][42] The tension between Balotelli and Mourinho reached its peak on the eve of the UEFA Champions League second leg against Chelsea after the young striker was not called-up, following an altercation his manager.[43] Despite Inter's 1–0 win at Stamford Bridge, London, Balotelli was criticized by several senior players including captain Javier Zanetti[44] and veteran defender Marco Materazzi, as well as by his own agent.[45] In March 2010 he came under heavy criticism from fans after he publicly sported an A.C Milan (Inter's cross-town rivals) jersey on the Italian show Striscia la Notizia.[46]

Zlatan Ibrahimović with Balotelli

Balotelli released a statement of apology in Internazionale's official website that read:

"I am sorry for the situation that has been created recently. I am the first person who has suffered because I adore football and I want to play, and now I am waiting in silence so I can return to being useful to my team. I want to put the past behind me, look to the future and concentrate on the upcoming commitments and make myself ready."

Mario Balotelli[47]

After a falling-out with Mourinho, Balotelli was recalled for Inter's April 2010 match against Bologna, and he marked his return with a goal in their 3–0 win.[48] He again caused controversy in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona on 20 April 2010 as he threw his jersey on the ground after the final whistle, in response to Inter fans who had booed him for his poor performance.[49] This action he later described as one big regret in his footballing career.[50] Disgruntled fans confronted and tried to attack Balotelli after the game. His behavior on the pitch brought disapproval from his teammates, with Zanetti publicly saying "Mario needs to focus on doing what he can do on the pitch, he can't allow himself to behave like this."[51] Amid these controversies with his club and manager, many Premier League teams, including Manchester United and Manchester City, indicated that they were interested in signing Balotelli in July 2010.[52]

Manchester CityEdit

2010–11Edit

After weeks of speculation Inter reached an agreement for Balotelli's transfer to Manchester City on 12 August 2010 for €21.8 million.[53][54] At Manchester City Balotelli reunited with his former boss, Roberto Mancini,[55] who said, "His style of play will suit the Premier League, and because he is still so young there is a big chance for him to improve. He is a strong and exciting player, and City fans will enjoy watching him."[55] Balotelli exchanged squad number with teammate Greg Cunningham so that he could continue to wear the number 45 shirt.[56]

Balotelli (right) with Alex Song and Bacary Sagna in April 2012.

On 19 August 2010 Balotelli came on as a substitute to score in his debut against Politehnica Timişoara in a 1–0 away win in the Europa League,[57] but during the match injured the lateral meniscus in his right knee and on 8 September underwent surgery that sidelined him until October.[58] Balotelli eventually made his Premier League debut on 24 October as a substitute in a 3–0 home defeat to Arsenal[59] and made his first Premier League on 30 October in a 2–1 away defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.[60] Balotelli scored his first and second Premier League goals on 7 November in a 2–0 away win to West Brom.[61] In the same game Balotelli received a red card for violent conduct as the result of a clash with Youssuf Mulumbu, which his manager Roberto Mancini described as unfair.[62] Balotelli scored the first two of City's three goals in the 3–0 win over FC Red Bull Salzburg in Manchester City's Europa League group stage match.[63]

On 21 December 2010 Balotelli won the Golden Boy Award, saying that only one of the past winners was slightly better than he was – Lionel Messi. He also claimed not to know of Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, the player he narrowly beat to the award.[64] On 28 December 2010 Balotelli scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a 4–0 win over Aston Villa.[65] Despite this success Balotelli still had disciplinary problems, and in March 2011 he was sent off in the second-leg of Manchester City's Europa League draw with Dynamo Kyiv.[66] On 14 May 2011 Balotelli was man of the match in the 2011 FA Cup Final as Manchester City defeated Stoke City 1–0 to win their first trophy in thirty-five years.[67]

2011–12Edit

"The problem is because of his age, he can make some mistakes. He's Mario. He's crazy – but I love him because he's a good guy."

Roberto Mancini, Balotelli's manager at Internazionale and Manchester City in October 2011[68]

Balotelli scored his first goal of the 2011–12 campaign in a 2–0 League Cup win against Birmingham City. He followed this up with the opening goal against Everton three days later. On 1 October 2011 he scored his third goal in as many games in a 4–0 win away to Blackburn Rovers. Balotelli scored the opening two goals and forced the dismissal of Jonny Evans as City beat Manchester United 6–1 at Old Trafford on 23 October 2011 in what would prove to be a decisive game in helping win Manchester City the league title.[69] Balotelli made his Champions League debut for City on 2 November 2011, in the second leg against Villarreal. He scored on a penalty shot near the end of the first half, his first Champions League goal for City and his seventh goal overall in the season.[70] On 27 November, Balotelli came on as a 65th minute substitute against Liverpool and was sent off after receiving two yellow cards.[71] Balotelli scored using his right shoulder in City's 5–1 win over Norwich City on 3 December.[72] He put City 1–0 up against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge after just two minutes on 12 December, although Chelsea rallied to win 2–1.[73]

On 22 January 2012, Balotelli came on as a substitute during a match against Tottenham Hotspur. He appeared to stamp on Scott Parker during the match against Tottenham, but, already booked, did not get a second yellow from referee Howard Webb, who did not see the incident.[74] Balotelli subsequently scored his first goal of 2012, an injury-time penalty which secured a 3–2 win for City.[75] He was charged for violent conduct for the kick against Scott Parker and was suspended for four matches, three for violent conduct and one for his second sending off.[74] On 25 February, he scored his tenth league goal of the season in a 3–0 home win against Blackburn Rovers.[76] He scored again the following game in a 2–0 win against Bolton Wanderers.[77] On 31 March, Balotelli scored twice as City drew 3–3 at home against Sunderland. However, Balotelli was criticized for his actions in the match after squabbling with Aleksandar Kolarov over a free kick. Roberto Mancini claimed after the game that he had considered substituting Balotelli just five minutes into the match.[78] On 8 April 2012, Balotelli received his fourth red card of the season, after receiving his second yellow card during the match for a tackle against Bacary Sagna during City's 1–0 loss to Arsenal in April 2012.[79] He was banned for three games (one for the two yellow cards and two for the previous two red cards in the same season).[80] After the Arsenal match, Mancini appeared to have finally lost his patience with Balotelli, suggesting that Balotelli would not play any part in the remainder of City's season and be sold by the club.[81] Despite this, Balotelli did make an appearance as a late substitute in the last game of the season, a title-deciding match against Queens Park Rangers. Balotelli provided the assist to striker Sergio Agüero, who scored in the 94th minute to give City their first league title since 1968.[82]

2012–13Edit

In December 2012, Balotelli decided to fight against Manchester City's decision to fine him two weeks' wages for his poor disciplinary record the previous season by taking his club to a Premier League tribunal. Balotelli missed 11 games domestically and in Europe last season because of suspensions. With less than a day remaining to the start of the hearing, Balotelli dropped his tribunal action and accepted the fine.[83]

A.C. MilanEdit

"I will remember my brilliant team-mates, the manager and all the supporters. They are the best, they were great with me and I will always have a very special place in my heart for City, it's a great club with a great future."
"I spoke with Roberto before I went to speak to the players. We spoke for some time about lots of things. He was sad, and I was too. But it was a good conversation. I love Roberto, he has been very important for my career, and I will always thank him for having trust and faith in me."[84]

Mario Balotelli, in regards to his transfer to Milan
A mural of Balotelli outside of the San Siro in Milan
Balotelli playing in the Milan derby against former club Internazionale in February 2013.

On 29 January 2013, A.C. Milan's organising director Umberto Gandini announced that the team had agreed a deal to sign Balotelli from Manchester City on a four-and-a-half year deal rumoured to be worth €20 million plus bonuses and add-ons.[85] Manchester City's then manager Roberto Mancini suggested he had sanctioned Balotelli's sale to Milan for the good of the player, describing the forward as "like another one of my children" and saying Balotelli could become one of the best players in the world when restored to Serie A.[86] On 31 January 2013, the Serie A giants completed the signing,[87] and Balotelli was awarded the number 45 shirt, the same number he wore for Internazionale and Manchester City. Milan's vice-president, Adriano Galliani, said "Balotelli in Rossoneri is a dream that has been realized. It is a transfer that everyone wanted: club, president and fans."[88] Balotelli received a warm reception when he returned to Milan. His arrival saw some fans scuffling with police and one policeman was taken to hospital with head injuries.[89] It has been stated that Silvio Berlusconi's signing of Balotelli will help him gain extra votes in the upcoming Italian general election.[90]

2012–13Edit

On 3 February 2013, Balotelli made his debut for Milan and scored two goals, including a last minute penalty to earn a 2–1 victory over Udinese. The win lifted Milan to fourth in the table, ahead of Internazionale on goal difference.[91] In the next two matches, Balotelli scored two goals, including 30 yards (27 m) free-kick against Parma.[92] With that goal, he equaled Oliver Bierhoff's record of four goals in first three matches for Milan.[93] In his fifth appearance Balotelli appeared as a substitute against Genoa and scored his fifth goal for his new club.[94] In the match against Palermo, Balotelli continued his impressive scoring streak with two more goals, one from a penalty and another from an M'Baye Niang cross.[95]

On the final day of the season, Balotelli scored his twelfth goal in thirteen games for Milan as the team beat Siena to qualify for the 2013–14 Champions League.[96]

2013–14Edit

On 22 September 2013, Balotelli missed the first penalty of his professional career en route to a 2–1 defeat to Napoli. In 26 previous attempts, Balotelli had scored all the penalties.[97]

During a league match on 1 December 2013, Balotelli was allegedly subjected to a racial slur from Catania defender Nicolás Spolli. The Italy international had to be held back by his teammates after confronting Spolli following a tackle with the Catania player. Balotelli appeared to accuse Spolli of racially insulting him, although it was not clear what the Argentine had allegedly said.[98]

The following week, Balotelli scored two goals in a 2–2 draw with Livorno, including a sensational 30-yard direct free kick that was clocked at a speed of 109 km/h.[99]

On 8 February 2014, Balotelli seemed inconsolable after being substituted during Milan's 3–1 defeat at Napoli. He was substituted for Giampaolo Pazzini in the 73rd minute and upon taking a seat on the bench, Balotelli began to cry.[100]

On 14 February 2014, Balotelli scored a goal of the season contender – a dipping thunderbolt from 43 yards that clocked at 91 km/h (56 mph) – to secure a 1–0 victory for AC Milan against Bologna.[101]

International careerEdit

Balotelli signing an autograph

Balotelli was unable to answer call-ups to the Italian national under-15 and under-17 teams as he was still considered to be a Ghanaian immigrant.[102]

On 7 August 2007, five days before his seventeenth birthday, Balotelli received his first senior International call-up for Ghana from their coach Claude Le Roy for a friendly against Senegal at the New Den stadium in London, England, on 21 August 2007.[103] He declined the offer citing once again his willingness to play for Italy when he became eligible.[104] He also stated his willingness to represent Italy at international level once he acquired an Italian passport.[105]

Italy U-21 coach Pierluigi Casiraghi stated his intention to call up Balotelli once he obtained Italian citizenship. On 13 August 2008 Balotelli was finally given Italian citizenship.[106]

This is even more exciting than making my debut in Serie A. The best birthday present I could receive now would be a call to join the Italy squad, although I'd be happy to play for the Under 21 team.

Mario Balotelli[107]

Balotelli and Italy manager Cesare Prandelli (centre) meeting Italian President Giorgio Napolitano (right) in November 2011.

Casiraghi called him to join the Italy national under-21 football team Azzurrini on 29 August for the matches against Greece and Croatia.[108] In his debut on 5 September 2008 he scored his first international goal in a 1–1 draw with the Greek U-21's.

Balotelli was named in the final 23-man squad for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championships and scored the opening goal against the hosts Sweden in the 23rd minute. Barely 15 minutes later he was shown a red card for retaliating against a Swedish midfielder Pontus Wernbloom.[109]

On 10 August 2010, Balotelli made his first appearance for the Italian senior team, as part of the squad announced by new head coach Cesare Prandelli, in a friendly match against Côte d'Ivoire – Italy's first match after the 2010 World Cup.[110] In that match he started alongside debutant Amauri and striker Antonio Cassano in a 1–0 loss.[111] On 11 November 2011, Balotelli scored his first senior international goal in a 2–0 win against Poland at Stadion Miejski in Wrocław, Poland,.[112]

UEFA Euro 2012Edit

Before the tournament in the Ukraine and Poland kicked off, in June 2012 Balotelli was interviewed by a newspaper about the state of racism in the host countries. During the interview Balotelli reinforced his threats to walk off the pitch if any of the opposition's fans racially abuse him in any way, and said he would 'kill' anyone that threw a banana at him. He spoke about his increasing fears that black players will be targeted by racists and that he refuses to accept racism in any form, talking of his past incidents surrounding racism in football notably during his time playing in Serie A for Internazionale.[113] During the build-up to the competition Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini had repetitively defended Balotelli, but he and footballer Daniele De Rossi believed that Mario would need to grow up and mature if he was going to become the centrepiece of future Italian success.[114]

Balotelli representing Italy at Euro 2012 against England

On 10 June 2012, Balotelli also became the first black player to appear for Italy in a major tournament (Euro or World Cup) in a 1–1 draw against Spain, Italy's first match of Euro 2012. Italy and Spain later played each other for the second time in the tournament in the Ukraine's capital city of Kiev. During the 1–1 draw Balotelli failed to make an impact, he was substituted off during the 56th minute after missing multiple chances; specifically a one on one with Spanish goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas just minutes before being subbed off. His replacement was Antonio Di Natale the 34 year-old managed to secure his 11th international goal and put Italy ahead within his time on the pitch. With Balotelli continuing his run of poor form for his nation, fans and critics began calling for Di Natale to replace the "immature and unpredictable striker."[115][116][117]

Later in the tournament, on 18 June 2012, Mario Balotelli scored his first goal in a major international tournament in a 2–0 victory against the Republic of Ireland. When he attempted to celebrate this goal, he was immediately halted by teammate Leonardo Bonucci, who covered Balotelli's mouth with his hand for fear that the striker would say something to "get in trouble."[118] Balotelli had been dropped to the bench by Cesare Prandelli prior to the game due to his lack of ability shown in his previous group games, so when he was subbed on against Ireland fans didn't expect him to have much of an impact, and his celebration of his goal may have originally been directed towards the naysayers who believe he is bad for the team. Balotelli went on to start against England in the quarter-finals, his performance was described as wasteful but his effort was rated highly in a game where he missed multiple chances. He scored the first penalty taken in the shootout against his Manchester City teammate Joe Hart.[119] Balotelli scored twice within the first 40 minutes in Italy's semi-final clash with Germany, as the Azzurri won 2–1 and progressed to the Euro 2012 final against European and World champions Spain.[120] Going into the final Balotelli said that, Manchester City's title success meant that failure in the Euros would not signal a personal failure this season. He also said that he was unfazed by the pressure he supposedly has on his shoulders going into the final, with new high expectations of him from his home supporters after his amazing performance against Germany.[121]

During the tournament, Balotelli was subject to a case of racial abuse during the game against Croatia, which led UEFA to fine the Croatian Football Federation €80,000.[122]

2014 FIFA World Cup qualifyingEdit

After establishing himself in the side at Euro 2012, Balotelli remained the first choice striker for Italy's 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

On 21 March 2013, he scored a long range equaliser in a friendly match against Brazil at the Stade de Genève.[123] Five days later he scored both goals as Italy defeated Malta in a World Cup qualifier, continuing his prolific scoring streak for both club and country since signing for Milan.[124]

On 7 June 2013, Balotelli was sent-off in a 0–0 draw with the Czech Republic in Prague.[125]

2013 FIFA Confederations CupEdit

On 3 June 2013, he was named in Italy's squad for the 2013 Confederations Cup.[126] In Italy's opening match on 16 June, Balotelli scored a late-winner, helping Italy to beat Mexico 2–1.[127] In Italy's next group match with Japan, Balotelli scored a penalty to make it 3–2 after being 2–0 down in the first half. Italy went on to win the match 4–3.[128] Prior to the semi-final, Balotelli suffered a thigh injury, preventing him from playing in the remainder of the tournament.[129]

Style of playEdit

Mario Balotelli shooting at goal and evading Spain defender Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets in the final of Euro 2012.

Agile, quick and powerful,[130] Balotelli is credited with pace, strength, and technical ability, but criticized for a perceived poor and immature attitude at times.[131] Balotelli is also a set-piece specialist due to his powerful shot, and is regarded by teammates and the media as a promising but undisciplined player.[132] He is regarded as one of the best penalty kick takers in world football, a view backed by his Manchester City goalkeeping team-mate Joe Hart. Balotelli missed his first competitive penalty on 22 September 2013 when it was saved by Pepe Reina.

In his two years at Manchester City, he had received four red cards – against West Bromwich Albion (November 2010), Dynamo Kyiv (March 2011), Liverpool (November 2011) and Arsenal (April 2012). He has also in this time served suspensions for other incidents such as the supposed stamp on Scott Parker.[80]

Personality, reputation and legacyEdit

"I told him, if you played with me 10 years ago I would give you every day maybe one punch in your head. There are different ways to help a guy like Mario. I don't speak with him every day, otherwise I would need a psychologist, but I speak with him because I don't want him to lose his quality. If Mario is not one of the best players in the world it will be his fault, because he has everything. Mario can be one of the top players in Europe. I don't want him to lose his talent."

Mancini in April 2012[133]

Balotelli has been given a reputation by the media for being a difficult character and taking part in questionable and often amusing activities. He was once described by Jose Mourinho as "unmanageable."[134] In June 2010, Balotelli and a group of friends fired air pistols in the open in Milan's Piazza della Repubblica.[135] Although denying that he is "crazy" as his mentor Roberto Mancini frequently claims, Balotelli has admitted that he "sometimes does strange things".[136] In 2010, he was photographed in the company of two noted Mafia mobsters.[137] Since joining Manchester City, Balotelli gained a cult following,[138] particularly with Manchester City supporters regularly sing a song with lyrics which make reference to his activities.[139] Musician Tinchy Stryder recorded a song in Balotelli's honour, Mario Balotelli.[140]

Balotelli has been the subject of numerous newspaper stories since joining Manchester City, some have been confirmed as true while others have turned out to be erroneous. Within days of joining Manchester City, Balotelli was involved in a car crash.[141] It was reported that Balotelli was carrying £5,000 cash at the time – and that when a police officer asked why he had such a large sum of cash Balotelli replied: "Because I am rich".[142] Off-field activities involving Balotelli have included driving into a women's prison in Italy to "have a look round",[143] and throwing darts at a youth team player during a training ground 'prank'[144] – all of which have been confirmed to be true. Balotelli has also been subjected to tabloid rumours about him confronting a bully in a school after querying why a young Manchester City fan wasn't attending classes,[145] and giving £1,000 to a homeless man on the streets of Manchester,[146] – allegations which subsequently turned out to be false.[147][148]

"I've finished my words for him. I've finished. I love him as a guy, as a player. I know him. He's not a bad guy and [he] is a fantastic player. But, at this moment, I'm very sorry for him because he continues to lose his talent, his quality. I hope, for him, he can understand that he's in a bad way for his future. And he can change his behaviour in the future. But I'm finished."

Mancini in April 2012 following Balotelli's dismissal against Arsenal[81]

Video footage before City's Europa League clash with Dynamo Kiev in March 2011 showed Balotelli requiring assistance to put on a training bib,[149] an incident which teammate Edin Džeko was seen mimicking the following week in the warm up before City's game at Chelsea.[150] In September 2011, Balotelli was reportedly seen using his iPad whilst on the substitutes' bench for Italy during their game with the Faroe Islands,[151] although he denied this on a visit to a prison later that week.[152]

A signed Mario Balotelli replica shirt with his famous slogan: "Why always me?".

He also celebrated his goal against Manchester United in October 2011 by unveiling a shirt with the words: "Why always me?" on it – a celebration which seemingly disputes the accuracy of newspaper reports.[153] The day before the match, Balotelli and his friends set Balotelli's house on fire when a firework was let off in it, and later that week Balotelli was unveiled as Greater Manchester's ambassador for firework safety.[154] On 5 November 2011, at the annual fireworks display at Edenbridge, Kent, a 12 metre tall bonfire effigy of Balotelli was unveiled – complete with a Super Mario hat, and a house in the right hand and a 'Giant TNT' firework in his left, which were reference to his recent incident.[155][156] In December 2011, Balotelli broke a 48-hour curfew before City's game against Chelsea to go to a curry house, although he "was not drinking alcohol, signed autographs, posed for pictures with fellow diners and was involved in a mock sword-fight using rolling pins". The club launched an internal investigation.[157]

Balotelli made an unexpected appearance at Andrea Stramaccioni's first press conference as Inter Milan coach on March 2012. Balotelli nonchalantly entered the press room, before proceeding to the interviewee podium to shake Stramaccioni's hand and those of other people at the podium before leaving the press conference amidst some laughter from the audience.[158] In December 2012, Balotelli was due to take Manchester City to a Premier League tribunal to protest a fine of two weeks' wages over his poor disciplinary record, but eventually dropped his tribunal action a day before the hearing.[159]

In July 2012, Balotelli's former on-and-off girlfriend and showgirl Raffaella Fico claimed that she was pregnant with his child.[160] Fico's daughter Pia was born on 5 December 2012. Fico accused Balotelli of being "irresponsible" and "not interested" in his newborn baby daughter.[161] In a statement on 27 December 2012, Balotelli said: "I can no longer tolerate that my honour as a man is offended and I am falsely accused of serious ­misbehaviour, which has no element of truth. I caution Raffaella Fico that she will pay damages for any further irresponsible comments that she makes."[162] Balotelli issued a statement that he has no intention of shirking his paternal responsibilities if she has proof he is the father.[163] On 29 March 2013, Balotelli stated that he has not yet received the paternity test from Fico that he requested.[164] Balotelli had finally acknowledged paternity of her daughter Pia on 6 February 2014.[165][166]

Career statisticsEdit

ClubEdit

As of match played on 14 April 2014.[167]
Club Season League Domestic Cup[a] League Cup[b] Europe[c] Other[d] Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Lumezzane 2005–06 Serie C1 2 0 2 0
Total 2 0 2 0
Internazionale 2007–08 Serie A 11 3 4 4 0 0 0 0 15 7
2008–09 22 8 2 0 6 1 1 1 31 10
2009–10 29 9 5 1 8 1 1 0 40 11
Total 59 20 11 5 14 2 2 1 86 28
Manchester City 2010–11 Premier League 17 6 5 1 0 0 6 3 28 10
2011–12 23 13 0 0 2 1 6 3 1 0 32 17
2012–13 14 1 1 0 1 1 4 1 0 0 20 3
Total 54 20 6 1 3 2 16 7 1 0 80 30
Milan 2012–13 Serie A 13 12 13 12
2013–14 26 14 1 1 10 3 37 18
Total 39 26 1 1 10 3 50 30
Career total 154 66 18 7 3 2 40 12 3 1 218 88
Mario Balotelli with England defender Ashley Cole in Euro 2012

InternationalEdit

As of match played on 18 November 2013.[168]
National team Year Apps Goals
Italy 2010 2 0
2011 5 1
2012 9 4
2013 13 7
Total 29 12

International goalsEdit

Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 11 November 2011 Stadion Miejski, Wrocław  Poland 1–0 2–0 Friendly
2. 18 June 2012 Municipal Stadium, Poznań  Republic of Ireland 2–0 2–0 Euro 2012
3. 28 June 2012 National Stadium, Warsaw  Germany 1–0 2–1 Euro 2012
4. 2–0
5. 16 October 2012 San Siro, Milan  Denmark 3–1 3–1 2014 World Cup qualifier
6. 21 March 2013 Stade de Genève, Geneva  Brazil 2–2 2–2 Friendly
7. 26 March 2013 Ta' Qali National Stadium, Ta' Qali  Malta 1–0 2–0 2014 World Cup qualifier
8. 2–0
9. 16 June 2013 Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro  Mexico 2–1 2–1 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
10. 19 June 2013 Arena Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil  Japan 3–2 4–3 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
11. 10 September 2013 Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy  Czech Republic 2–1 2–1 2014 World Cup qualifier
12. 15 October 2013 Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy  Armenia 2–2 2–2 2014 World Cup qualifier
As of 15 October 2013.[169]

HonoursEdit

ClubEdit

Internazionale
Manchester City

IndividualEdit


Personal lifeEdit

In 2012, Balotelli featured in GQ where he and Tinie Tempah were named as the first- and second-best dressed men in the world.[170] Balotelli also covered the influential New York based American Time Magazine where he was included in the 100 most influential people in the world.[171]

Balotelli is a fan of mixed martial arts, as he has stated in the past that he would love to compete in the sport professionally if he were not a footballer.[172]

Balotelli's five vehicles include: a Range Rover Evoque, Ferrari 458 Spider, Bentley Continental GT, Maserati GT, and Audi R8 V10.[173]

In January 2013, Balotelli's net worth was estimated to be US$35 million,[173] up from US$25 million in January 2012.[174] Balotelli raked in an astonishing US$96 million between January 2013 and January 2014 and in February 2014, Balotelli's net worth is estimated at US$275 million to US$300 million with Balotelli owing his fortune to smart stock investments, substantial property holdings, lucrative testimonial deals and enterprises.[175] Balotelli bought a £3 million mansion in the United Kingdom.[173]

Balotelli practices Buddhism, and no longer drinks alcohol.[176][177]

In March 2013, Balotelli got engaged, and he currently resides in Italy, with his Belgian fiancée, Fanny Neguesha.[178]

NotesEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

Last modified on 19 April 2014, at 23:56