|Full Name : Mario Barwuah Balotelli
Date Of Birth: 12 August 1990
Place of Birth: Palermo, Italy
Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Current Club: Manchester City
National Debut: 2010
Mario Balotelli was born in Palermo, Sicily, to Ghanaian immigrants Thomas and Rose Barwuah. The family moved to Bagnolo Mella in the province of Brescia, Lombardy, shortly after he was born. As an infant, he had life-threatening complications with his intestines which led to a series of operations, although his condition had improved by 1992. Mario's health problems and the family's cramped living conditions meant the Barwuahs decided to ask for the help of social services who recommended that he be fostered. In 1993, the Barwuah family agreed to entrust the three-year-old boy to Francesco and Silvia Balotelli, with the legal move formalized by the Court of Brescia. When Mario Balotelli became famous, his biological parents asked for his return. He later accused them of "glory hunting", stating that they only wanted him back because of the prominence he had gained. According to Law 91 of 5 February 1992, Balotelli had to wait until his 18th birthday to request Italian citizenship, as the Balotellis had not adopted him, and he officially gained citizenship on 13 August 2008.
He has three biological siblings, Abigail, Enoch and Angel. Enoch Barwuah, two years his junior, had a trial at English Premier League side Stoke City in December 2011.
Balotelli began his career with Lumezzane. At the age of 15 he was promoted to the first team, making his first team debut in a Serie C1 league match against Padova.
Having had an unsuccessful trial with FC Barcelona at the age of 15 Balotelli was signed by F.C. Internazionale Milano in 2006 on loan with a pre-set price of €150,000 to co-own the player. In June 2007 Inter excised the option and purchased another half for additional €190,000. He made his first team and Serie A debut on 16 December 2007 replacing David Suazo in a 2–0 win against Cagliari. Three days later he featured in the starting lineup in a Coppa Italia match against Reggina, scoring two goals in a 4–1 win. Balotelli gained national attention after he scored two goals against Juventus in the return leg of the Coppa Italia quarter-finals, being instrumental in a 3–2 away win for Inter. His first Serie A goal then came in April 2008 in a 2–0 away win against Atalanta. Inter went on to win the 2007–08 Serie A. Balotelli was a substitute in the 2008 Supercoppa Italiana final against A.S. Roma. He came on as a replacement for Luís Figo, scoring in the 83rd minute. Inter went on to win the final 6–5 on penalties after the match ended 2–2.
In November 2008 he scored his first Champions League goal in a 3–3 draw against Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta, becoming the youngest Inter player (at 18 years and 85 days) to score in the Champions League. This beat the previous record set by Obafemi Martins at 18 years and 145 days. In April 2009 Balotelli scored Inter's goal in a 1–1 draw with Juventus and was racially abused by Juventus fans throughout the game, including chants such as "Black Italians do not exist". This led to Massimo Moratti saying that he would have pulled the team off the pitch if he had been present. The racist chants were also condemned by Juventus chairman Giovanni Cobolli Gigli and Juventus were given a one game home-fan ban because of the incident. Inter won Serie A for the fourth time in a row.
In his second season with Inter, Balotelli had a number of disciplinary problems, most notably involving head coach José Mourinho who excluded him from the first team in the second half of January 2009. Earlier that season Mourinho had accused Balotelli of showing a lack of effort in training stating "as far as I'm concerned, a young boy like him cannot allow himself to train less than people like Figo, Córdoba, and Zanetti." Balotelli continued to be the subject of racist chants throughout the season, becoming the focus of Juventus fans even during games not involving Inter, leading to Juventus being fined twice and the club ultimately punished with a partial stadium closure.
Balotelli's disciplinary problems, and his difficult relationship with Mourinho, continued in the 2009–10 season. In November Inter drew 1–1 against Roma and Mourinho criticized his players, even going as far as saying that Balotelli "came close to a zero rating". The young striker again incurred the wrath of Juve (Juventus) fans in the heated Derby d'Italia away encounter with Juventus on 5 December 2009 which Inter lost 2–1. When he was elbowed by Juve midfielder Felipe Melo in the shoulder he fell on the pitch clutching his face and was promptly booked, while Melo was sent off for a second yellow card. The incident sparked a fiery altercation between teammate Thiago Motta and Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The tension between player and manager reached its peak on the eve of the UEFA Champions League second leg against Chelsea after the young striker was not called-up, following an altercation with Mourinho. Despite Inter's 1–0 win at Stamford Bridge, London, Balotelli was criticized by several senior players including captain Javier Zanetti and veteran defender Marco Materazzi as well as his own agent. In March he came under heavy criticism from fans after he publicly sported an A.C. Milan (Inter's cross-town rivals) jersey on the Italian show Striscia la Notizia.
Balotelli released a statement of apology in Inter Milan's official website that read:
"I am sorry for the situation that has been created recently. I am the first person who has suffered because I adore football and I want to play, and now I am waiting in silence so I can return to being useful to my team. I want to put the past behind me, look to the future and concentrate on the upcoming commitments and make myself ready." - Mario Balotelli
After a spell out of the team, Balotelli was recalled for the match against Bologna and he marked his return with a goal in their 3–0 win. He soon caused controversy again in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona on 20 April as he threw his jersey on the ground after the final whistle, in response to Inter fans who had booed him for his poor performance. This led to an attempt by a small group of supporters to physically attack Balotelli after the end of the game. His behaviour brought disapproval from fans, team-mates and football pundits.
After weeks of speculation Inter reached an agreement for Balotelli's transfer to Manchester City on 12 August 2010, for €22 million. for which Inter made a profit of €21.856 million. At Manchester City Balotelli reunited with his former boss, Roberto Mancini. who said, "his style of play will suit the Premier League, and because he is still so young there is a big chance for him to improve. He is a strong and exciting player, and City fans will enjoy watching him".
On 19 August 2010 Balotelli came on as a substitute to score in his debut against FC Timişoara in a 1–0 away win in the Europa League. Unfortunately he injured the lateral meniscus in his right knee in the match and on 8 September he underwent surgery that saw him sidelined until October. Balotelli eventually made his Premier League debut on 24 October as a substitute in a 0–3 home defeat to Arsenal and made his full debut on 30 October in a 2–1 away defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Balotelli scored his first and second Premier League goals on 7 November in a 2–0 away win to West Brom. In the same game Balotelli received a red card for violent conduct as the result of a clash with Youssuf Mulumbu, which his manager Roberto Mancini described as unfair. Balotelli scored the first two of City's three goals in the 3–0 win over FC Red Bull Salzburg in Manchester City's Europa League group stage match.
On 21 December 2010 Balotelli won the Golden Boy Award, saying that only one of the past winners was slightly better than he was – Lionel Messi. He also claimed not to know of Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, the player he narrowly beat to the award. On 28 December 2010 Balotelli scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a 4–0 win over Aston Villa. Despite this Balotelli still had problems and in March 2011 he was sent off in the second-leg of Manchester City's Europa League tie with Dynamo Kiev. On 14 May 2011 Balotelli was man of the match in the 2011 FA Cup Final as Manchester City defeated Stoke City 1-0 to win their first trophy in thirty-five years.
Balotelli scored his first goal of the 2011/12 campaign in a 2-0 Carling Cup win against Birmingham City. He followed this up with the opening goal against Everton three days later. On 1 October 2011 he scored his third goal in as many games in a 4-0 win away to Blackburn Rovers. Balotelli scored the opening two goals and forced the dismissal of Jonny Evans as City beat Manchester United 1-6 at Old Trafford on 23 October 2011.
Balotelli made his Champions League debut for Man City on 2 November 2011, in the return match against Villarreal. He scored from the penalty spot on the stroke of half time during the match, scoring his first CL goal for them in the process and his seventh goal overall in the season. On November 27, Balotelli came on as a 65th minute substitute against Liverpool, and was sent off after receiving two yellow cards. Balotelli scored using his right shoulder in City's 5-1 win over Norwich on 3 December. He put City 1-0 up against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge after just two minutes on 12 December, although Chelsea rallied to win 2-1.
On 22 January 2012, Balotelli came on as a substitute during a match against Tottenham Hotspur. He appeared to stamp on Scott Parker during the match against Tottenham. He was already booked but did not get a second yellow from referee Howard Webb who did not see the incident. Balotelli subsequently scored his first goal of 2012 , a injury-time penalty which secured a 3-2 win for City. He was charged for violent conduct for the kick against Scott Parker and was suspended for four matches, three for violent conduct and one for his second sending off. On 25 February, he scored his 10th league goal of the season in a 3-0 home win against Blackburn Rovers. He scored again the following game this time in a 2-0 win against Bolton. On 31 March, Balotelli scored twice as City drew 3-3 at home to Sunderland. However, Balotelli was criticised for his actions in the match, after squabbling with Aleksandar Kolarov over a free kick. Roberto Mancini claimed after the game he had considered substituting Balotelli just five minutes into the match. On 8 April 2012, Balotelli received his fourth red card, after earning his second yellow card during the match both against Bacary Sagna, during City's 0-1 loss to Arsenal in April 2012, after "a dangerous, chaotic, birdbrain performance". After the Arsenal match, Mancini appeared to have finally lost his patience with Balotelli, suggesting that Balotelli would not play any part in the remainder of City's season and be sold by the club.
alotelli was unable to answer call-ups to the Italian national under-15 and under-17 teams as he was still considered to be a Ghanaian immigrant.
On 7 August 2007, five days before his 17th birthday, Balotelli received his first senior International call-up for Ghana from their coach Claude Le Roy for a friendly against Senegal at the New Den stadium in London, England, on 21 August 2007. He declined the offer citing once again his willingness to play for Italy when he became eligible. He also stated his willingness to represent Italy at international level once he acquired an Italian passport.
Italy U-21 coach Pierluigi Casiraghi stated his intention to call up Balotelli once he obtained Italian citizenship. On 13 August 2008 Balotelli was finally given Italian citizenship and Casiraghi called him to join the Italy national under-21 football team "Azzurrini" on 29 August for the matches against Greece and Croatia. In his debut on 5 September 2008 he scored his first international goal in a 1–1 draw with the Greek U-21's.
Balotelli was named in the final 23-man squad for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championships and scored the opening goal against the hosts Sweden in the 23rd minute. Barely 15 minutes later he was shown a red card for retaliating against a Swedish midfielder Pontus Wernbloom.
Balotelli received his first call-up for the Italian senior team, as part of the squad announced by new head coach Cesare Prandelli, for a friendly match against Côte d'Ivoire - the first match after the 2010 World Cup. On 10 August 2010, two days before his 20th birthday, he made his debut in that match partnering Cassano and Amauri in a 0–1 loss. On 11 November 2011, Balotelli scored his first senior international goal in a 2–0 win against Poland at Stadion Miejski in Wroclaw, Poland.
Style of play
Balotelli is credited with pace, a forceful shot and technical ability, but criticised for a petulant attitude. He is often nicknamed "Super Mario" and can play anywhere along the front line. Balotelli is also a set-piece (dead ball) specialist and is regarded as a promising but difficult young striker.
Personality and reputation
Balotelli has gained a reputation for being an extrovert character and many of his off field antics have been reported in the press. Paying homage to Balotelli's extrovert activities, Manchester City supporters often serenade a song with lyrics referring to his antics and musician Tinchy Stryder recorded a song in Balotelli's honour.
Within days of joining Manchester City, Balotelli was involved in a car crash. It was reported that Balotelli was carrying £5000 cash at the time - and that when a police officer asked why he had such a large sum of cash Balotelli replied: "Because I am rich". Off field activities which have been reported include driving into a women's prison in Italy and throwing darts at a youth team player during a training ground 'prank'.
Balotelli has also been subjected to tabloid rumours about him confronting a bully in a school after querying why a young City fan was not at school and giving £1000 to a homeless man on the streets of Manchester, allegations which subsequently turned out to be false. Video footage before City's Europa League clash with Dinamo Kiev in March 2011 showed Balotelli requiring assistance to put on a training bib, an incident which teammate Edin Džeko was seen mimicking the following week in the warm up before City's game at Chelsea. In September 2011, Balotelli was reportedly seen using his iPad whilst on the substitutes' bench for Italy during their game with the Faroe Islands, although he denied this on a visit to a prison later that week. Balotelli has turned the garden of his Manchester home into a racetrack for quadbikes. Balotelli celebrated his goal against Manchester United in October 2011 by unveiling a shirt with the words: "Why always me?" on it - a celebration which seemingly disputes the accuracy of newspaper reports. The day before the match a firework was set off in Balotelli's home, and later that week he was unveiled as an ambassador for firework safety. On 5 November 2011, at the annual fireworks display at Edenbridge, Kent, a 12 m tall effigy of Balotelli was burned.
In December 2011, Balotelli broke a 48-hour curfew before City's game against Chelsea to go to a curry house, although he "was not drinking alcohol, signed autographs, posed for pictures with fellow diners and was involved in a mock sword-fight using rolling pins". The club launched an internal investigation and he could face disciplinary action. In the same month, it was reported that Balotelli visited his local church where he donated £200 and then visited a pub in Chorlton-cum-Hardy where he bought a £1000 round. Balotelli's jaunt and donation to church was later confirmed by the church's priest.
In another infamous moment in the career of Balotelli, the Manchester City striker made an unexpected appearance at Andrea Stramaccioni's first press conference as Inter Milan coach on March 2012. Balotelli entered the press room, shook Stramaccioni's hand and those of other people at the podium before leaving the press conference amidst some laughter from the crowd.
Serie A: 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10
Coppa Italia: 2009–10
Supercoppa Italiana: 2008
UEFA Champions League: 2009–10
FA Cup: 2011
Golden Boy Award: 2010
FA Cup Final Man of the Match: 2011