The world according to Mario can often be a complicated one. The Italian maverick already has a number of different clubs under his footballing belt. This includes the likes of Milan as well as Manchester City and now Liverpool. Considered to be “unmanageable” by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho whilst under his tutelage at Inter, Balotelli had a difficult upbringing. Having been born to immigrants who were of Ghanaian descent, little Mario grew up in the tiny town of Palermo.
In his early days, Balotelli’s original name was Barwuah. He was frequently in and out of the hospital ward due to intestinal problems, whilst his parents slaved away to try and earn a wage. Fortunately, his condition improved by the early 1990's and his family moved to pastures new in Brescia. The city was awash with a wealth of factories and several industries searching for employees.
These were the principal reasons behind the move, but it was not smooth sailing for Balotelli. Forced to share a cramped apartment with another African household was difficult enough. However, it led the current Number 45 to be rehomed with a foster family called the Balotelli's.
Having settled in Concesio, a rich town less than seven miles away from Brescia, Balotelli then gained Italian citizenship in 2008. Casting aside his African heritage, the striker has had a strained relationship at times with his birth family. After an unsuccessful trial with the mighty FC Barcelona, Balotelli signed for Italian giants Inter Milan back in 2006.
Yet Balotelli constantly garners headlines as controversy after controversy seems to surround him. Many believe that the $25 million fee to Liverpool is his last opportunity to shine at a major club. For Super Mario, only time will tell if the move turns out to be a fruitful one.
Here are the top 15 controversial moments of the man they call Super Mario.
15 Chicken Hat
Mario Balotelli is also known for his more interesting sense of fashion. This was clearly visible during his time at Manchester City when he wore an infamous hat. Suspiciously, this looked like the top of a chicken’s head. The Italian could easily have been mistaken for Foghorn Leghorn with that getup but this did not stop him from gaining plenty of attention. The ex-City forward adopted a myriad of styles but it was the hat that grabbed the spotlight.
14 Euro Postman Celebration
Postman Pat he is not, especially after Mario Balotelli struck this infamous pose. It took place at the European Championships in the summer of 2012. Italy was taking on Germany for a place in the final. Yet for Balotelli, this became one of the biggest viral sensations of the year. Several companies and YouTube addicts recreated the statue like pose decking the striker in everything from virtual Superman costumes to Conan the Barbarian.
13 Dart Gate
Whilst training for Manchester City, Balotelli got into trouble over throwing a dart out of a window. Feeling bored, the controversial Italian decided to pick one up and throw it from the first floor. However, the youth team was present and the dart almost acted as a missile as it headed towards a group of players. After the unfortunate incident, the Manchester City Football Club had no choice but to issue an apology for Balotelli’s misdemeanour.
12 Wilshere Snub
The phrase “Do you know who I am?” is often banded about on a regular basis these days. From obtaining plane upgrades to nightclub entry into the VIP section, this phrase is utilized often. However, when Mario Balotelli picked up the FIFA Young Player of the Year award, he used it in an altogether different context. Having beaten out stiff competition to the title including Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere, Balotelli was asked to comment on the Gunner. According to the Italian, he had never heard of the pint sized player.
11 Training Ground Scuffle with Roberto Mancini
One of the craziest incidents of the lot was when the fiery Italian locked horns with his manager at the time, Roberto Mancini. In spite of the fact that they shared the same nationality, this did not detract from Balotelli and Mancini coming to blows. This took place during a training session for Manchester City. As the striker grappled with his coach, he was furious with Mancini for getting involved after he committed a bad foul in the training game.
10 Car Accident
Footballers are known to have several flashy cars and Balotelli was certainly no exception to the rule. After crashing his striking Audi R8, he didn’t even make it to the training ground. This came after he had signed with the Blues for more than $30 million. At the time of the incident, the police noted that Balotelli had around $10,000 in cash lying in his trunk. The reason this according to Balotelli was because “I am rich.” In addition to this, other reports alleged that Balotelli had his Maserati seized nearly 30 times and had amassed around $20,000 in parking tickets.
9 Lost Luggage
Another row between Balotelli and Roberto Mancini nearly ended in tears after a UEFA Europa League game. The Italians came to blows yet again after Balotelli was given his marching orders when Manchester City came up against Russian side Dynamo Kiev. After a silly challenge made the Italian see red in every sense of the word, it was on the flight back to Manchester where tempers flared. It is believed that Roberto Mancini threw a couple of suitcases at Balotelli as he was so furious due to the player’s behaviour.
8 Back Heel Blooper
In July 2011, Manchester City and Mario Balotelli went on a pre-season tour of the United States of America. They faced the L.A. Galaxy which was supposed to be a relatively hassle free tune up in preparation of the new season. However, when Balotelli was just yards out from the goal, it was more difficult to miss. He then attempted a pirouette style back heel with the ball ending up wide of the goal. This infuriated Roberto Mancini who immediately substituted Balotelli. A heated confrontation ensued which was to be a regular occurrence in their tempestuous relationship.
7 Bully Escape
In May 2011, Balotelli turned himself from zero to hero after helping a school pupil who was being bullied. Super Mario stepped in to save the day after an enthusiastic fan requested an autograph from the Italian at Manchester City’s training ground. Little did he know he was bunking off school but when Balotelli discovered the truth, he took matters into his own hands. He drove the kid, not to mention his mom, directly to the school. He then confronted the bullies and acted as a mediator as the headmaster laid down the rules to the young boys.
6 Parker Uproar
5 Press Conference Invasion
4 Mad Mario’s Christmas Spree
The holiday season is fast approaching and as we are aware, it is the season of good will. During Christmas in 2011, Balotelli allegedly took a trip into the centre of Manchester dressed up in a Santa Claus outfit. Dubbed in blue to represent Manchester City, his club colours at the time, the Italian went around distributing a host of cash, not to mention presents to total strangers. This was all done from his car. Meanwhile, he also provided cash sums to others including one homeless man who received the princely sum of $2,500.
3 Setting off Fireworks
One crazy moment went off with a bang for Mario Balotelli whilst in England. A moment of madness ended up in Balotelli setting off a firework in his own bathroom. This immediately prompted a call to the emergency services in order to deal with the situation at the property he rented. For reasons only known to him, the striker set off a myriad of rockets during the early hours of a Saturday back in 2011. He did manage to rescue large amounts of cash in an even madder act to get back into his home. In fact, one of the rockets deflected into a towel according to some news reports.
2 Why Always Me?
The very next day after Balotelli had set off fireworks at his home in South Manchester, the striker went on to don one of the most iconic t-shirts of all time. The time was early afternoon and the setting was Old Trafford. Known as the Theatre of Dreams, this was home to Manchester United. In one of the most anticipated derby matches for some time, United faced City in what was to become a legendary battle. Many will remember after Balotelli scored the moment when he pulled his jersey up. This revealed the symbolic “Why Always Me?” shirt which was in response to the fireworks incident 24 hours previously. It has now gone down in footballing folklore as far as Balotelli’s celebration is concerned. This was also the game when Manchester City unleashed their biggest derby defeat on their rivals for nearly half a century. Although this was a 6-1 mauling it will no doubt be remembers for Balotelli’s on-field antics.
1 I Shot The Sheriff
Balloteli recently hit the headlines thanks to his gun pointing antics in July 2014. Maverick Mario posted a picture on social media site Instagram where he pointed a firearm towards the camera. The actual message on the image was entitled "a big kiss to all the haters". After facing a backlash due to his woeful performances for The Azzuri, Balotelli also felt the wrath of AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani. The image was swiftly taken down but once again it threw up all sorts of debate regarding the striker.