Soccer: The best and worst of the (often) brilliant Mario Balotelli

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SoccerThe best and worst of the (often) great Mario Balotelli

During his turbulent career, the Italian footballer often vacillated between pure genius and insane shots. Here’s the best of Mario Balotelli, FC Sion’s new star recruit.

Mario Balotelli (here in a Liverpool jersey) will be the new attraction of the Swiss championship.

fresh focus

From Italy to Turkey, via England and France, Mario Balotelli, now 32,

has “seen the country” and above all talked a lot about him (for better or for worse) wherever he went. The former Italian international and new FC Sion player experienced a high point during his time in England in the Manchester City shirt, where he delivered his best antics.

“Super Mario” also means golden feet, crazy goals and a record to be proud of: three-time Italian champion and Champions League winner with Inter, English champion with Manchester City, 36 caps with the Italian national team (14 goals), which he represented at Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup.

Here’s the best of Super Mario over time:

All Super Mario Clubs

2006: Lumezzane (2 games, 0 goals)

2007–2010: Inter Milan (59m, 20g)

2010–2013: Manchester City (54m, 20g)

2013-2014: AC Milan (43m, 26b)

2014-2016: Liverpool (16m, 1b)

2015–2016: AC Milan (loan, 20m, 1b)

2016-2019: OGC Nice (61m, 33g)

2019: Olympique Marseille (15m, 9b)

2019-2020: Brescia (19m, 5g)

2020-2021: Monza/Italy, Series B (12m, 5g)

2021-2022: Adana Demirspor/Turkey (33m, 18g)

Mourinho’s 14-minute speech

September 2009: “The most problematic players are often very funny. It was fun with Mario,” said José Mourinho, his former coach at Inter. The Portuguese, current Roma coach, has a great affection for ‘Super Mario’. “I could write a 200-page book about him,” said the “Mou”. But, you know what? This book would not be a drama but a comedy. I remember a game in Kazan in the Champions League. All of my attackers were injured. Mario was the only one I had left. He received a yellow card in the 42nd or 43rd minute. At half-time I think I spent 14 minutes of the 15 available just talking to him. I said to him: Mario, I can’t change you, I don’t have any strikers on the bench, so don’t touch anyone and just play with the ball. If we lose the ball, no reaction. If someone provokes you, no reaction. If the referee makes a mistake, there is no reaction. Mario, please… 46th minute, red card!”

F1 instead of the meeting

Another anecdote from José Mourinho during their years together at Inter. “Super Mario” even allowed himself to put a rabbit in front of his trainer. “I wanted to meet him and had called him to my office at 2 p.m.,” Mourinho said a few years later. He wasn’t there at the agreed time. So I called him. When he answered me, he was in Formula 1 qualifying at Monza. I tell him: Mario, you should be in my office at 2 p.m. And then he answers me: Yes, but trainers, we can do meetings every day. The Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix takes place only once a year. Of course, as a coach, you shouldn’t take that lightly back then. But in hindsight, a few days later, I’ll admit it made me laugh.

The plastic gun

June 2010: Mario Balotelli shoots into the sky on Republic Square in Milan. The police intervene and steal his gun, which happens to be a plastic pistol.

Pissed off with his chasuble

March 2011: Mario Balotelli makes a fool of himself for a silly chasuble story in front of TV cameras while warming up for a game against Dynamo Kyiv. Twice a Manchester City staffer had to help him put on a chasuble before the Italian lost patience and threw it to the ground. Later in the game, “Super Mario” is sent off in the 36th minute. dirty day

Mario plays darts

March 2011: Mario Balotelli is under internal investigation at Manchester City for throwing darts at the club’s youth from the first floor. City announces in step that no one was hurt. But Super Mario, who just wanted to have a good laugh, gets a hefty fine from the club.

For the beauty of the gesture

July 2011: In the friendly against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Mario Balotelli had to put the ball into the net just a few meters from the goal. Instead, he decides to add more: he performs an unnecessary roulette and tries to kick the ball with his heel. His attempt misses the mark miserably. His teammates are angry. Out of him coach Roberto Mancini replaces him.

“Why always me?”

October 2011: Mario Balotelli opens the top scorer in the win over Manchester United. Tired of seeing his name in the media for his extra-sport throwbacks, the Italian aired his kit to reveal a t-shirt which read: ‘Why always me? (“Why always me?”). Legendary.

fireworks at home

October 2011: Mario Balotelli’s house burns on the outskirts of Manchester. The reason for the fire? The Italy striker shoots fireworks from his bathroom, igniting a bath towel. Estimated damage: 600,000 euros. However, it started with good intentions…

The historic title pass of 2012

May 2012: Mario Balotelli scores the only assist of his season in a Manchester City shirt. But this one comes at the best time. The Citizens need a home goal against Queens Park Rangers to become English champions for the first time since 1968. Last action of the game, in stoppage time: Balotelli managed to kick the ball at the edge of the field in the direction of Argentine Sergio Agüero. The rest is history, although Balotelli later admitted “I wanted to try to shoot”. Holy Mario!

Mario turns into a statue

June 2012: In the semifinals of Euro 2012 against Germany, Balotelli shoots Manuel Neuer into the skylight with a rocket. To celebrate this fantastic goal, he takes off his jersey, flexes his muscles and pretends to be a statue. The Italian’s pose goes around the world.

One last bump for the road

August 27: And hop, a last confusion for the road (that of Valais). This time, Balotelli, with his own coach, Italy’s Vincenzo Montella, flips over at the end of a game against Turkey’s Adana Demirspor side. The next day, a plane with Balotelli on board took the player back to Brescia, Italy….


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