Ranking Mario Balotelli's Top 10 Moments
Mario Balotelli hasn't been shy about making headlines wherever he has gone.
After all, he is one of the most polarizing figures in the peninsula of Italy and has become a larger-than-life character internationally.
Now that he's spearheading Milan and the Italian national team, he has been thrust in the spotlight once again.
Let's take a look at the top 10 moments in Balotelli's career.
10. Signs for City
Balotelli was plucked from Inter Milan by Manchester City on 12 August 2010 after the polarizing striker fell out with then-Nerazzurri boss Jose Mourinho, who didn't see him fit for his plans.
Balotelli was reunited with coach Roberto Mancini at Manchester City, where he was immediately embroiled in turmoil from the British tabloids that sought to make a mockery of his curious off-field shenanigans.
The striker netted 20 goals in 54 appearances for the Premier League club but was unable to win his way into a consistent starting role.
9. Getting Engaged
Pictured above is Fanny Neguesha, Balotelli's soon-to-be wife.
The striker became engaged only a few weeks ago, showing that he is ready to take the next step in his natural maturation process.
Before you wonder why this is anywhere near this list, remember that Antonio Cassano saw his career change for the better after he got married.
For Balotelli, having a more structured, adult-like life could finally allow him to become the player many know he can be.
8. Becoming Friends with the Press
Balotelli hasn't always had a good relationship with the press.
While he was in England, the Italian striker was often ridiculed by the tabloids, as they magnified every single facet of the young man's life.
One seemingly innocuous prank was often turned into a national headline, with scornful journalists weighing in on the off-field drama.
Now, he seems to have turned a page.
After announcing that he is getting engaged, Balotelli has learned to act more maturely around the media while still making the occasional joke.
7. Debut for Inter
Balotelli made his Inter debut in 2007, when he joined the Serie A outfit after spending some time with Lumezzane in the third division.
The 17-year-old became an instant hit as he showed a capability to score world-class goals and was already brimming with confidence.
Inter fans had no idea just how popular of a figure Balotelli would become down the years.
6. Scores in World Cup
Balotelli scored in his first World Cup game when Italy beat England 2-1 in the opening round of this year's tournament.
A beautiful cross from Antonio Candreva found Balotelli on the back post, where he was able to squirm away from his defender.
Balotelli's header penetrated Joe Hart, and the Italian striker couldn't help but smile—a rare occurrence for anyone who has followed his celebrations through the years.
He'll continue leading the Azzurri front line as Cesare Prandelli's men look to get out of the group stage.
5. Header vs. Germany
Balotelli's header vs. Germany in the 2012 Euro semifinal between Italy and Germany was key in getting his nation to the final, which they ultimately lost to Spain.
A fantastic cross from the left flank by Cassano saw Balotelli land a glancing header right into the back of Manuel Neuer's post.
This goal was significant not simply due to the circumstance, but also because Balotelli's main weakness is his aerial ability.
4. Returns to Milan
After making the shock revelation, via Italian newspaper Il Giornale (h/t Goal.com), during his Inter days that he was indeed a Milan supporter, Balotelli made his return to the city nestled in northern Italy after his spell at Manchester City went wayward.
Balotelli signed with the Rossoneri and is currently their star striker up front.
For the first time in his career, he has been used primarily as a starter in the lineup.
While the jury is still deliberating about which position would best suit him, there's no questioning that he draws plenty of attention from the opposing defense and is always capable of changing the course of the match with one moment of sheer brilliance.
3. Champions League Winner
Balotelli can claim to have won the Champions League.
Even though he spent most of Inter's 2009-10 treble-winning season on the bench, the experience he picked up from that bizarre journey has undoubtedly helped him grow.
While he showed moments of pure brilliance with the odd sensational strike, Mourinho ultimately fell out with Balotelli, sitting him on the bench for a majority of the matches from that season.
2. An Influential Superstar
Balotelli made the list on Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world for 2013.
This decision by Time put Balotelli on the map as a social figure as well as a sports icon.
The criteria used to decide this list has not been made readily available, but it has to be guessed that his unique upbringing and the fact that he became a larger-than-life character both on and off the pitch had something to do with it.
1. Pose vs. Germany
The image of Balotelli flexing like a statue after his staggering hit from outside the box in the Euro 2012 semifinal between Italy and Germany is the most memorable moment in his career.
Not only was his brace in this match incredible due to the favored opposition and the fact that it was the golden ticket to the final, but it also showed that he could thrive in the biggest moments.
Balotelli's signature pose became one of the most recognizable celebrations and a meme-maker's dream.