Super Mario Balotelli, the 'black sheep' that everyone loves

Mario Balotelli (L) and Samuel Eto'o of Inter Milan look on during the Serie A match between Inter Milan and Bari at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on August 23, 2009 in Milan, Italy.  (Aug. 22, 2009 - Source: Claudio Villa/Getty Images Europe)

Mario Balotelli (L) and Samuel Eto'o of Inter Milan look on during the Serie A match between Inter Milan and Bari at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on August 23, 2009 in Milan, Italy.

(Aug. 22, 2009 - Source: Claudio Villa/Getty Images Europe)

Most soccer players give us memories that last forever by means of divine displays on the field of play. Quite recently, the social media community gave them a name they would always be remembered with, GOATs, Greatest Of All Time. However a handful of stars to ever grace the game are remembered for something more than just what they did with the ball, they are forever “idolized” for their being. Just who are they are. My subconscious has voluntarily crafted a statue of Mario Balotelli in a section of my mind. Just the thought of him, always puts a grin on my face. Do you all remember some of the adventures that the Ghanaian-Italian has led us into? I remember a few.


Why always him?

Contrary to popular belief, Mario Balotelli Barwuah has had quite a successful career so far. Of course, he could have done more because of his rare talent if not for the “ill-discipline” and many other strange Mario things. Born to Ghanaian immigrants in Palermo, Sicily in Italy - Mario started playing soccer at a young age and had to juggle interchanging between his biological and foster parents’ home. His biological parents had not been able to fund his healthcare needs. First major successes of Super Mario’s career came when he was at Inter Milan. The Italian international won three successive Serie A titles from 2007-10, including a much coveted UEFA Champions League crown in the 2009-10 season under the “Special One”, Jose Mourinho. He was just 20 years old, had scored 20 goals in his 59 appearances at Inter, won silverware that some great players never get their hands on in a lifetime - MB45 was riding on the crest of rare wave. His move to English Premier League side, Manchester City - was the platform to eventually introduce the world to the Italian, born of Ghanaian parents.


The good, bad and ugly

Mario Balotelli of Italy controls the ball as he runs through to score his team's second goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 semi final match between Germany and Italy at the National Stadium on June 28, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland.  (June 27, 2012 - Source: Joern Pollex/Getty Images Europe)

Mario Balotelli of Italy controls the ball as he runs through to score his team's second goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 semi final match between Germany and Italy at the National Stadium on June 28, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland.

(June 27, 2012 - Source: Joern Pollex/Getty Images Europe)

Super Mario has endured some tough times during the course of his career. From the monkey racist chants directed at him and Ghana’s Kevin Prince Boateng while at Milan and outside the pitch drama pertaining his personal life. He has always been quite a hard boy though and would always rather respond by pulling off stunts peculiar to him. At Manchester City, we came to know him as the guy who scores and celebrate by putting up the most serious of faces, roll his shirt up to display the inside vest with an inscription, “why always me.” This was hardly a response to the persecution he got but rather an honest statement enquiring why he had to be the one always scoring goals and being so good above everyone else. Yeah, him and Zlatan Ibrahimovic seem to be from the same planet. One of many priceless Ballo moments at City was a failed attempt to score with a back heel dribble after being fed into a one on one position with the LA Galaxy goalkeeper by David Silva. The lackadaisical approach on that pre-season chance was an example of a handful of such moments in his career that warranted him to get stick from some fans and pundits. I for one and am sure, several other people adored such moments. You would never know what Mario would do next and that just made it even more exciting. He eventually scored 33 goals in 54 matches of his Man City career.

Never to be forgotten is the time Super Mario sunk German in the 2012 UEFA European Championship semi-final with a wonderful brace, introducing the celebration of taking of his shirt off and summing up a hulk like face and demeanor that has been replicated by so many since then. His agility, pace, power, flair, creativity and all the other things required for one to be an exceptional soccer player are found in Mario. That has and will always go down as the reason why he has been such a rare talent to grace the sport of soccer.


Functional and dysfunctional relationship with Roberto Mancini

The Italian national team manager has crossed paths with Balotelli more than he would have liked. Perhaps he loved it. It has never been that clear. Mancini was MB45’s mentor first at Inter Milan, Manchester City and now the Italy national team. I remember the 53-year-old immediately substituting Super Mario in the 30th minute after the failed backheel against LA Galaxy. He has always been very expressive of his relationship with Super Mario and Mario himself has seemed not to care many times more than one.That just makes the whole thing funny. He are some of the things Mancini said about Mario:

I could write a book of 200 pages of my two years at Inter with Mario, but the book would not be a drama – it would be a comedy. I remember one time when we went to play Kazan in the [2009–10] Champions League. In that match I had all my strikers injured... I was really in trouble and Mario was the only one. Mario got a yellow card in the 42nd [20th]minute, so when I got to the dressing room at half-time I spend about 14 minutes of the 15 available speaking only to Mario. I said to him: ‘Mario, I cannot change you, I have no strikers on the bench, so don’t touch anybody and play only with the ball. If we lose the ball no reaction. If someone provokes you, no reaction, if the referee makes a mistake, no reaction.’ The 46th [60th] minute – red card!
— Roberto Mancini narrating Balotelli's dismissal in October 2012
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.
— Roberto Mancini in April 2012

In the mind of Super Mario

Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United and Mario Balotelli of Manchester City have words during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Dec. 8, 2012 - Source: Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe)

Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United and Mario Balotelli of Manchester City have words during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Manchester, England.

(Dec. 8, 2012 - Source: Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe)

Do you remember some of Mario Balotelli’s infamous quotes? Here are a few:

  1. "No, I don't know him, but next time I play Arsenal, I will keep a close eye on him," and "Perhaps I can show him my Golden Boy trophy and remind him that I won it." - Balotelli asked about Jack Wilshere, fellow competitor for the Golden Boy award.

  2. “Only Messi Is Better Than Me" - Balotelli after winning the Golden boy award.

  3. “Just to see what it looks like" - Balotelli driving into a female prison

Mario Balotelli, now 28 years of age, has played for some of the biggest clubs in world soccer such as AC Milan, Inter Milan, Manchester City and Liverpool. He is currently plying his trade with French Ligue 1 side, OGC Nice under Arsenal legend, Patrick Vieira. He has not lost his eye for goal, already bagged 33 in 51 appearances for the club. Who knows where he will be next? One thing is for sure, MB45 is definitely undone and just as I am, many are probably more than delighted that he is still around to rock our worlds.

By the way, are you aware that he even trolled Manchester United’s for the late goal they conceded in a 2-2 draw against Chelsea over the weekend?