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Mario Balotelli: The Man, The Myth, The Legend [VIDEOS]

Mario Balotelli’s name precedes him, just as it was with the man he’ll be replacing with his imminent arrival at Liverpool. When Premier League fans think of Balotelli, they think of “Why Always Me”, bathroom fireworks, and his slew of training ground bust-ups with teammates and coaches alike. But just as it’s unfair to refer to Suarez for his lapses in judgment so to speak, without mentioning that he was, indeed, the greatest player in the world during the 2013-14 season, it’s unfair to mention Balotelli without mentioning his talent. Voted by FIFA as the 2010 Young Player of the Year while at Manchester City, Balotelli has a keen eye for goal and his powerful frame and mobility ranks him in the upper echelons of world soccer.

Interesting from the beginning: Having failed a medical at Barcelona, Balotelli was bought by Inter Milan after a year-long loan from his youth club, Lumezzane. Despite becoming the youngest player ever to score a Champions League goal for the club in 2008, Balotelli was first confronted with a problem that still plagues him in his home country – racism. Juventus fans in particular targeted the youngster, even when the two clubs weren’t playing each other! Balotelli also clashed with then-manager Jose Mourinho, causing the Portuguese to repeatedly launch misguided attacks on the player in the media. It was the beginning of the end for Balotelli, and in 2010 he was sold to rising English superpower, Manchester City.

The best of times, the worst of times: A few firsts for Balotelli in a 2010 Premier League match as the Italian scores his first two goals for Manchester City against West Brom, but is later sent off for a reckless challenge on Youssouf Mulumbu.

Why Always Me: A day after emergency services were called to his home after a firework ignited in a bathroom set the house on fire, Balotelli introduced one of his most famous celebrations. After scoring a goal in the Manchester Derby he pulled up his jersey to reveal a matching sky blue t-shirt with the words “Why Always Me” on it. As a result of the firework antics, Balotelli was later announced to be Manchester’s ambassador for firework safety.

Antics, both real and not: Balotelli’s reputation is such that when he’s reported as doing something particularly crazy, you can’t immediately write it off as wacky journalism. Incidents confirmed to be real include: crashing his car days after his City debut (with £5,000 in his pocket), visiting a women’s prison on a whim, and throwing darts at City youth players at the training ground. A few stories were paraded as truth at first, but later revealed as just rumors, such as Balotelli going to a Manchester school and confronting a bully and giving over £1,000 to a homeless man.

This is SERIOUS: During a friendly between LA Galaxy and Manchester City, Balotelli squandered a chance while through on goal by attempting a spinning back-heel that flew wide. He didn’t seem to think it was a big deal, as it was a friendly and he was trying to put on a good show, but City coach Mancini flew into a rage and substituted him immediately.

There’s no place like home: After a series of training ground bust-ups, first with teammate Micah Richards then with Mancini, Balotelli was ushered back to Italy and sold to AC Milan in 2013. Since his move to Milan, his goalscoring rate has improved and he rarely makes the headlines.

Italian hero & family man: Balotelli’s biological parents immigrated to Italy from Ghana before he was born, but at the of age three he was sent to the Balotelli’s, who became his foster parents. After scoring against Germany at the 2012 European Championships to put Italy through to the final, the striker found his foster mother Silvia in the crowd and embraced her. He has become a regular in the Italian national side, scoring the winning goal in Italy’s group stage win over England during the 2014 World Cup.

Some of Balotelli’s best goals:

Italy vs. Brazil friendly, 2013

Milan vs. Bologna, Serie A, 2014

Italy vs. England, 2014 World Cup

Milan vs. Napoli, Serie A, 2013

Manchester City vs. Norwich, English Premier League, 2011 (cheeky!)

Penalty, Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund, UEFA Champions League

The 24-year-old’s antics can be rather entertaining, but it’s his prodigious talent and ability that Brendan Rodgers will be hoping to see on a regular basis for the Merseyside outfit. Liverpool managed to keep Luis Suarez under control during the 2013-14 season, largely in part due to Rodgers’ man-management and the brilliant work of club psychologist Dr. Steve Peters. Suarez kept a cool head and only courted controversy after joining up with Uruguay at the World Cup. Balotelli has already improved his off-field behavior and his exploits on the pitch, and if all goes to plan he’ll continue his growth at Liverpool this season.

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  1. EDub

    August 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

    I still want Balo at Arsenal. Yes, he’s crazy. But worth every penny if the right person can manage him.

    I’d take the gamble of having him for 1 year to see if old Arsene could get him focused.

  2. christian

    August 22, 2014 at 9:02 am

    I’ll always love Mario but he’s too moody and selfish to depend on. His last match for us was in the Manchester Derby back in December of 2012 and he was completely checked out. I seem to recall that Mancini took him off at the half.

    It’s easy to remember the big goals and antics. I don’t mind him acting young and stupid off the pitch because we’ve all been young and stupid. It’s his demeanor and attitude on the field that matters most. While Liverpool will be storming up the pitch, Mario could well be sitting at midfield wondering why he didn’t get to touch the ball.

  3. fernando

    August 22, 2014 at 3:10 am

    I smell sour grapes if Chelsea arsenal man u man city would have signed balo then it would be considered as n master stroke but because he chose lfc suddenly all his bad behaviour of the past are all over the internet but all u doubters will regret it he will be n hit next to sturridge ynwa for 16 mil wow we just bought Italian number one striker lol compare that to 28 mill Everton spend on lukaku then Mario is n steal so we go again this season well done br

    • goisles01

      August 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      we also have belgiums and Englands #1 striker

  4. jtm371

    August 21, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Three articles on this clown in less than 24 hours what a joke. Everyone thinks they can handle him and guess what everyone has failed. 2010 is a lifetime ago he has never came close to his success of his youth. Just a dumpster fire waiting to ignite. So be it.

    • jtm371

      August 21, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      come not came late night senior moment. 🙂

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