The Mario Balotelli world tour is heading to Brazil with reports in the Italian press suggesting that the Italian striker is currently in talks with Flamengo.
Never far from controversy, many will ask if Brazil, a country known for its displays of wild abandonment, is the ideal place for a guy who, let’s be honest, has not covered himself in glory either on or off the field in recent years.
As the 28-year-old (reportedly) prepares to pen a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Rio Di Janeiro giants, we now pay tribute to the man nicknamed “Super Mario” as we take a look back some of his finest career moments.
We start with probably his greatest moment during a three-year spell with Manchester City from 2010 to 2013.
After 12 months at the club, Balotelli decided to take lodgings in Mottram St Andrews in leafy Cheshire, but the peace and tranquillity in the area was disrupted in the early hours one Saturday morning in October 2011 when fire crews were called to Mario’s gaff as flames engulfed the property.
Turns out our intrepid hero had relieved his apparent boredom, by letting off fireworks inside the house in his bathroom, before deciding to go and check himself into a city centre hotel just hours before taking part in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford; Balotelli scored twice in a 6-1 hammering of bitter rivals United.
You can’t beat a bit of bully
All players need to unwind after training and Manchester City’s handsomely paid stars are no different. After a hard morning slugging it out in the five-a-side’s, the first-team and youth squads will normally come together for a game of table tennis, pool or darts.
Mario’s arrival at The Etihad saw the latter undergo a re-vamp when the Italian decided to use the youth team as target practice instead of the dartboard, launching darts from a first-floor window.
City boss Roberto Mancini, who tended to cut Balotelli some slack in matters like this, was not impressed as this particular incident followed the player’s sending-off in a Europa League tie against Dynamo Kiev – a situation that saw the normally placid Mancini hurl a suitcase at his fellow countryman. An internal investigation followed, Balotelli was fined £100,000 and the dartboard and darts were subsequently confiscated.
The people’s champ
Balotelli once crashed his car in Manchester and when the police discovered £5,000 in it and asked him why, he replied; “Because I’ve got more money you.” Arrogant? Maybe, but our Mario has a generous side, which rose to the surface after a successful night in one of Manchester’s finest casino’s back in May 2011.
As he made his way home with £25k in his back pocket, Balotelli took pity on a homeless man, giving him a grand out of his winnings. Acts of philanthropy don’t stop there either; with numerous tales in the UK and Europe in which Mario has played the part of the “people’s champion.”
No better example of this is was when he pulled into a petrol station and told all the other drivers on the forecourt to fill up and he would foot the bill.
When you move into a new pad, one of the first things that usually happens is that your parents arrive to take you shopping to stock up with household necessities like a decent vacuum cleaner, fridge freezer, stuff like that.
Mama Balotelli should have known better than to send her boy off to the local mall with an extensive shopping-list of essentials and nobody would have had any sympathy for her when Mario reportedly returned home with two Vespa scooters, a giant trampoline and a Scalextiric racing set.
We come right up to date with our final choice as Balotelli’s time in the port city of Marseille comes to its inevitable controversial conclusion.
After returning to his homeland for a well-earned break, while agent Mino Raiola finds him a new destination for 2019-20, Mario was taking a stroll around a marina in Naples when he was swamped by people eager to grab a quick selfie. To spice things up a little, Balotelli offered €2,000 for someone to ride their scooter into the sea; step forward bar owner Catello Buonocore, who made headline news in the peninsula with an Evel Knievel style manoeuvre that left everyone speechless.
The stunt was captured on camera of course and police pressed charges against both Balotelli and Buonocore for “criminal solicitation and gambling”, with the pair also charged with the “abandonment of hazardous waste”. The star of the show Buonacore, later told reporters that the scooter was only worth around 500 quid and even after paying any fines he would still be up on the deal and able to buy a replacement machine.