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Monday, 16 April 2012 17:16

Sebastian Giovinco

Full Name: Sebastian Giovinco
Date Of Birth: 26 January 1987
Place of Birth: Turin, Italy
Height: 1.64 m (5 ft 4 1⁄2 in)
Position: Second striker
Current Club: Parma
National Debut: 2011
Caps: 7(0)

Early life

Giovinco was born in Turin to a Sicilian father and a Calabrian mother who were immigrants from southern Italy.[4] He grew up in Beinasco, a comune southwest of Turin, in a family of Milan fans and joined the Juventus youth system when he was nine. He then rose through the ranks of the club and impressed especially during the 2005–06 season, winning the Campionato Primavera and reaching the final at the Viareggio Tournament. His younger brother Giuseppe was also part of the Juventus youth team until 2010, and is now playing for Lega Pro Prima Divisione club Carrarese

Club career

Giovinco was promoted to the first team during the 2006–07 season and also played his last season in the Primavera squad. His debut came on May 12, 2007 in the Serie B match against Bologna, entering in as a substitute in place of Raffaele Palladino. He marked his debut with a splendid assist for David Trezeguet's tap-in. Since then, he had been tipped to be Alessandro Del Piero's heir in the trequartista role.
Loan at Empoli
On July 4, 2007 he was loaned out to Empoli with his good friend and teammate Claudio Marchisio. Giovinco made his European debut in the UEFA Cup in September and scored his first Serie A goal on September 30, 2007 when Empoli beat Palermo 3–1. He caused large media interest when he scored his second goal, a free kick, on November 4, an equalizer against Roma, which was compared by some pundits to Ronaldinho's which knocked England out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Unfortunately Empoli were unable to avoid relegation and he was recalled to Turin in June.
Back to Juventus
In June 2008, Giovinco and Claudio Marchisio both returned to Juventus after enjoying a successful spell in Tuscany. Giovinco played his first match for Juventus on September 24, 2008 against Catania. He substituted Pavel Nedvěd late in second half, and made an immediate impact, assisting Amauri to score the only goal of the match. On December 7, 2008 he scored his first goal for Juventus, a free kick against Lecce in a 2–1 win. In October 2008, he signed a contract extension, tying him to Juventus until the summer of 2013. He ended the season with 3 goals in all competitions, including a volley against Bologna where he turned in a man-of-the-match performance as Juventus won 4–1.
Despite a bright start, Giovinco did not play regularly and made sporadic appearances throughout the season both in the starting eleven and off the bench as he struggled to fit into Ranieri's preferred 4–4–2 formation. The signing of Diego in the 2009 summer transfer window confined him to the bench but new manager Ciro Ferrara confirmed that the youngster will be back-up to the Brazilian international. When Ferrara was forced into a tactical switch due to injuries to first choice midfielders Mauro Camoranesi and Marchisio during various times, Giovinco was drafted into the starting line-up and helped Juve to a 5–1 hammering of Sampdoria in only his fourth start of the season.[11] Under Ferrara's successor Alberto Zaccheroni, he hardly featured at all due to the changes in formation and his position was taken by young midfielder Antonio Candreva, a winter loan signing from Udinese. In April, he sustained a training ground injury and was ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing tests. Parma
On August 2010, Parma F.C. announced the signing of Giovinco on loan from Juventus, with an option to buy 50% of the player's transfer rights at the end of the season. He scored his first goal for Parma on September 12, 2010, a free kick in a 2-1 loss to Catania. On January 6, 2011, Giovinco while on loan scored two goals for Parma in a 1-4 win against his parent club Juventus. Towards the end of the season, he again scored to contribute to a victory over his permanent club. At the end of the season, Parma exercised the option to buy 50% of his contract after a very promising debut season, which elevated Giovinco to the national representation and a chance of Euro 2012 involvement.

International career

Giovinco has represented Italy at every youth level from the U-16 level onwards. He was called up to Italy U-21 by head coach Pierluigi Casiraghi to make his U-21 debut in the 2009 European Championship opening qualifier on June 1, 2007 and was instrumental in their 4–0 thrashing of Albania.
He also starred at the 2008 Toulon Tournament, where he was voted most valuable player, scoring two goals in the opening game against the Ivory Coast, and netting the winning penalty in the semifinal match against Japan. Italy ultimately won the competition, defeating Chile 1–0 in the final. That summer, he and Juventus teammates Claudio Marchisio and Paolo De Ceglie were named in the squad for the 2008 Olympics. He scored the first goal in a 3–0 win against Honduras in the first match of the competition where he struck the ball from outside of the box with his weaker left foot and also impressed in the match against South Korea. Unfortunately his strong performances could not prevent the Azzurrini from losing 3–2 in a hard-fought quarterfinal against Belgium.
In the summer of 2009, Giovinco was called-up the U-21 side for the European Championships in Sweden after playing a part in their successful qualifying campaign. He formed partnerships with Robert Acquafresca and Mario Balotelli in an impressive three-pronged attack. Giovinco started in every single match at the tournament but Italy lost to eventual winners Germany 1–0 in a tightly contested semifinal.
With Juventus enduring a difficult season, his international career stagnated. He was called up for the first time in nearly two years after some good performances while on loan at Parma and made his senior team debut on 9 February 2011, in the friendly game played against Germany in Dortmund. After some promising substitute appearances, manager Cesare Prandelli stated that he will give Giovinco his full debut as a starter alongside Antonio Cassano.

Honors

Club
Juventus
2005–06 Campionato Primavera
2006 Supercoppa Primavera
2007 Coppa Italia Primavera
2006–07 Serie B
2008-2009 Serie A (Runners-up)
National team
Italy U-21: 2008 International Tournament of Toulon

Published in Squad
Monday, 16 April 2012 17:10

Antonio Cassano

Full Name : Antonio Cassano
Date Of Birth: July 12, 1982
Place of Birth: Bari, Italy
Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Position: Striker
Current Club: Milan
National Debut: 2003
Caps: 28 (9)

Club career

Bari
Cassano was born in Bari and his father left the family shortly thereafter. He was raised in the Bari Vecchia neighbourhood, and began playing football at an early age. Cassano was spotted by an A.S. Bari scout and brought up through the team's youth system, and he made his Serie A debut for Bari against local rivals U.S. Lecce in 1999.
Roma
At the age of nineteen, Cassano signed with reigning Serie A champions A.S. Roma, for a transfer fee of 60billion Italian lire (about €30 million). His first season produced five goals, and he attracted media attention after openly clashing with coach Fabio Capello after he was left out of a practice match a few days after his international debut. In the 2003 Italian Cup final against A.C. Milan, Cassano was sent off after protesting an official's decision, and he flashed the sign of the horns at the referee while leaving the pitch.
He was omitted from the squad during Roma's tumultuous 2004–05 campaign while Luigi Delneri, Roma's third coach of the season (after Cesare Prandelli and Rudi Völler), was in charge. After Delneri himself resigned during the season, his replacement, Bruno Conti, returned Cassano to the starting lineup, with Cassano captaining the team in the absence of incumbent Francesco Totti, who was serving a five-match suspension.
During the 2005–06 preseason, Cassano was in constant conflict with club management over the renewal of his contract, which was due to expire on June 30, 2006. In January 2006, he acrimoniously parted ways with Roma and signed with Real Madrid. for just €5M.
Real Madrid
Cassano became the second ever Italian player to sign for Real Madrid after former Roma teammate Christian Panucci. His début came on 18 January 2006, in a Spanish Cup match against Real Betis, and scored his first goal just three minutes after entering the match in the second half. However, just four months into his tenure with the club, he began gaining weight due to poor eating habits, which resulted in Madrid fining him for every gram he remained over his playing weight.
On 30 October, Madrid's official website announced that Cassano had been suspended due to his "disrespect" of Capello, who had joined the club at the beginning of 2006–07 season, following a dressing room argument arising from his omission from the team after a game against Gimnàstic de Tarragona, and was subsequently benched along with David Beckham and Ronaldo. In an interview with a Roman radio station, Cassano said he would "walk all the way back" to rejoin Roma, and indicated his eagerness to make peace with Totti, with whom Cassano had conflicted with before his departure from Roma. However, Cassano remained with Madrid after the January 2007 transfer window had closed, and the rest of his season was cut short by an ankle injury.
In an interview with Spanish radio in July 2007, Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón described Cassano's attitude as "unsustainable in the last couple of months" and indicated that he would be leaving the club.
Sampdoria
On 13 August 2007, Sampdoria took Cassano on a one-year loan, agreeing to pay €1.2 million of his €4.2 million salary. He was presented to approximately 2,500 fans five days later. In his first press conference, Cassano said that since his first-choice number 18 was already taken by teammate Vladimir Koman, he had instead chosen 99, because 9 plus 9 equals 18.
He made his Sampdoria début in the Derby della Lanterna against Genoa on 23 September, in which he was substituted by former Roma teammate Vincenzo Montella in the final minutes of the match. Cassano scored his first league goal upon his return against Atalanta a week later, in a 3–0 victory. He scored in three consecutive games in January, and helped end league leaders Inter Milan's winning league run with a goal in a 1–1 draw. However, Cassano was sent off in a 2–2 draw with Torino FC on 2 March 2008, which he compounded by hurling his shirt at the referee as he left the pitch, and was punished with a five-match ban. Sampdoria ended the season with a UEFA Cup berth, while Cassano was acquired on a permanent basis by the club on free transfer (plus bonus) from Madrid.
In his second season, Cassano confirmed to have temperamentally improved, also becoming vice-captain for the team behind Angelo Palombo. After the January signing of Giampaolo Pazzini from ACF Fiorentina, Cassano managed to form a fruitful striking partnership with the former viola forward, that was praised by both media and Sampdoria supporters, and led club chairman Riccardo Garrone to compare it with striking duo of Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini that led Sampdoria to win their only scudetto to date,[11] an opinion that was later shared also by both Vialli and Mancini.
His third season with Sampdoria again began very well for Cassano, who affirmed himself as a valid assist-man for Pazzini, and being instrumental in the club's impressive seasonal start, that led them up to first place after a 1-0 home win to Inter. However, a result crisis, including a 3-0 defeat in the local derby against crosstown rivals Genoa, left Sampdoria down to mid-table on January, leading head coach Luigi Delneri to put Cassano off the team for "technical and tactical reasons", casting doubts about the player's future at the club.
In the final days of the transfer window, he was linked with a move on loan to Fiorentina, that was however denied with an official statement from the club,[14] but was described by the media as Cassano's own refusal to leave Sampdoria.[15] This was confirmed by Cassano himself through an official statement published on Sampdoria's website, citing his relationship with club chairman Riccardo Garrone, his teammates and the team supporters as the main reason for his choice.
On October 2010 Cassano was excluded from the first team squad with immediate effect after he had a heated row with chairman Riccardo Garrone following the player's refusal to attend an award ceremony. Following such events, Sampdoria formally applied for a contract termination to a league arbitration panel, a position that was confirmed even after Cassano apologised to Garrone and the club. On December 16, the arbitration panel ordered Sampdoria to reinclude Cassano into the first team from 1 January 2011, rejecting the blucerchiati's request for a contract termination, but also concluding Cassano will be paid only 50% of his salary for the remainder of his contract.
Milan
On 20 December 2010, it was reported that A.C. Milan, Sampdoria and the player agreed the installment plan to pay a €5 million to Real Madrid which was indicated in Cassano's buy-out clause when he left the Spanish club. Eventually Sampdoria paid €5 million to Real Madrid; Milan paid €3.33 million to Sampdoria, while Cassano had a wage cut with Milan. Cassano then signed a three-and-a-half year contract with Milan, which was later confirmed by Milan's owner Silvio Berlusconi. He made his debut for his new club in a 1-0 win against Cagliari Calcio where he came on as a substitute for Alexander Merkel in the latter stages of the game. He scored his first goal for Milan in a 4-0 win against Parma. He went on to score three more goals that season, two against former clubs Bari and Sampdoria and the other one a penalty against fierce rivals Internazionale.
He never really claimed a spot in the starting XI and was behind Zlatan Ibrahimović, Alexandre Pato and Robinho in the Milan pecking order and due to his wish to keep his spot in the Italian national side, a lot of speculation formed over his future with links to Fiorentina and even English Premier League club Liverpool F.C.. In the end, though, he stayed with Milan and, after a good pre-season, scored in the first Serie A game of 2011-12 against Roman side S.S. Lazio.

International Career

Cassano has sixteen caps and four goals with Italy. His début came in November 2003 against Poland, in which he scored his first goal. He was part of Italy's UEFA Euro 2004 squad as a reserve, but after Totti was suspended following a spitting incident with Christian Poulsen in a group match against Denmark, Cassano was inserted into the starting lineup for a 1–1 draw with Sweden in which he scored. He also netted a last-minute winner in a 2–1 victory over Bulgaria, but Italy were eliminated in the group stage on goal difference.
Cassano was left off the final roster for the 2006 World Cup, but was called up for two Euro 2008 qualifying matches in September 2006. He was part of the finals roster and went scoreless in the tournament as Italy were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Spain after a penalty shootout.
After a two-year absence from the Azzurri team, and following widespread criticism from the media towards Marcello Lippi about his exclusion from the 2010 FIFA World Cup squad, Cassano was readmitted into the Italian team on August 6, 2010 by new head coach Cesare Prandelli for his first game in charge of the team, a friendly match against Côte d'Ivoire to played on August 10 at Upton Park, London. Almost a month later, in Italy's UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier played in Estonia Cassano scored the tying goal in a 1-2 away victory and also assisted Leonardo Bonucci's second goal with a back-heel. Cassano scored a long-range goal from just outside the box in Italy's 5-0 UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier win over the Faroe Islands. He scored again against Estonia helping Italy secure a 3-0 win.

Personal Life

Cassano got engaged with water polo player, Carolina Marcialis, in 2008 and then married at June 19, 2010 at church, Chiesa di San Martino, in Portofino. Cassano's wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a son, his name is Christopher, he was born on March 14, 2011.
It was reported that on 30 October 2011, Cassano complained of finding it difficult to speak or move when the team returned to Milan.
AC Milan announced and confirmed on 2 November 2011, that Antonio Cassano suffered ischemic-based cerebral damage, though it should be temporary. Cassano underwent minor heart surgery soon after and is expected to return to playing in a few months.

Honours

Club
Roma
Supercoppa Italiana: 2001
Real Madrid
La Liga: 2006–07
Milan
Serie A: 2010–11
Supercoppa Italiana: 2011
Individual
Serie A Young Footballer of the Year – 2001, 2003

Published in Squad
Monday, 16 April 2012 17:06

Mario Balotelli

Full Name : Mario Barwuah Balotelli
Date Of Birth: 12 August 1990
Place of Birth: Palermo, Italy
Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Position: Striker
Current Club: Manchester City
National Debut: 2010
Caps: 7(1)

Early Life

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.

Club career

Lumezzane
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.
Internazionale
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.
Manchester City
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.

International career

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.

Honors

Internazionale
Serie A: 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10
Coppa Italia: 2009–10
Supercoppa Italiana: 2008
UEFA Champions League: 2009–10
Manchester City
FA Cup: 2011
Individual
Golden Boy Award: 2010
FA Cup Final Man of the Match: 2011

Published in Squad