Mario Balotelli: The 5 Dumbest Moments of His Career so Far
There’s trouble brewing at Eastlands as patience is running thin on £24 million man Mario Balotelli. Italian U-21 manager Pierluigi Casiraghi said, “Seeing a lad of his talent who at 18 behaves like this both with the national team and his club is infuriating.” Then Inter manager José Mourinho remarked “He has a single brain cell, he's impossible to work with." Current manager, Roberto Mancini claimed, "I speak but I don't think he listens."
Balotelli has done more talking than playing. Remember after winning the Golden Boy trophy, he said, “There's only one that is a little stronger than me—Messi […] all the rest are behind me." He then claimed he didn’t know who Jack Wilshere was and would show him his Golden Boy trophy award to remind Wilshere who he was. Whilst Wilshere has progressed significantly, Balotelli has regressed drastically.
In 76 games for Inter Milan, Balotelli scored 28 goals and provided 13 assists. Yet, by accumulating 20 yellow cards and two red cards, he was also a liability. Balotelli’s mental fragility, selfishness and refusal to track back and defend were reasons why he was banished to the bench under Mourinho’s reign.
This season, Balotelli has scored 10 goals in 20 games but he also racked up nine yellow cards and two red cards. Like Mourinho, Mancini now faces the dilemma of giving Balotelli another chance or disciplining him i.e. dropping him to the reserves until he shows more professionalism.
Nigel De Jong insists that Balotelli will learn from his mistakes however this list will document five stupid moments to suggest otherwise.
Moment 5: Trying to Take a Penalty off Samuel Eto'o
At just 19 years of age, Balotelli had already burdened himself with a growing reputation as a talented but petulant player. He did himself no favours when he attempted to take the penalty of Samuel Eto’o who stood his ground.
If Palermo goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu had stood next to Eto’o like Balotelli then he would have been booked for unsportsmanlike behaviour. However Balotelli did Sirigu a favour by putting Eto’o off.
It was almost as if Balotelli wanted Eto’o to miss the penalty so he could become the designated penalty taker. For your information, Eto’o converted the penalty and Inter won 5-3.
That season, Eto’o would play an integral role as an auxiliary defender in Inter’s treble winning run whilst Balotelli sulked on the sidelines.
Moment 4: Getting Sent off Against Rubin Kazan with the Game at 1-1
With Inter looking to press their advantage against Rubin Kazan, Balotelli petulantly hacked down Christian Noboa who didn’t even have the ball and was sent off for a second bookable offence. The reaction from Dejan Stanković said it all – why Balotelli? Why?
The game was poised delicately at 1-1 and instead of Inter dominating the last 30 minutes, Balotelli’s red card allowed Rubin to pile on the onslaught, shooting eight times at Inter goals. Inter absorbed everything Rubin threw at them and were fortunate to escape with a 1-1 draw after Sergei Semak had hit the post from several yards out in the 81st minute.
It was almost as if Balotelli had no idea he was on a yellow card, you’d think he’d be aware that he needed to tread carefully having been booked already. A fortnight ago, Inter had played without the ball for 70 minutes but that was against Barcelona. Now against Rubin, his sending off forced his teammates to needlessly fatigue themselves with another last ditched defensive display.
This match displayed the Jekyll and Hyde persona that people have began to attribute to Balotelli. In the 29th minute, he hit a wonderful shot which struck the bar–only he would attempt such an audacious shot. Though 31 minutes later, Balotelli would do his teammates a disservice by getting himself sent off.
Maicon said, “We were able to get back on track after conceding the opener, but then with Balotelli’s dismissal we had to grit our teeth to the very end.”
Javier Zanetti said, “[…] Mario needs to understand he cannot keep making these mistakes. […]”
Balotelli would later apologise for his two thoughtless mistakes and promised to be more professional.
Moment 3: Wearing a Milan Shirt on National TV as an Inter Player
Imagine how the Roma ultras would have reacted to Francesco Totti if he had worn a Lazio shirt on national TV? Well a few months after promising to be more professional, out of favour with Mourinho, Balotelli for whatever inexplicable reason thought it was appropriate as an Inter player to wear a Milan shirt on national TV.
What inflamed this act even more was in the past, Balotelli had stated he was a Milanista. When asked why he was playing for Inter instead of Milan, he replied, “Well, I’m playing for Inter this year.”
With practically all the Italian teams heckling Balotelli, some even racially abusing him, it was mind-boggling as to why Balotelli would decide to alienate his own fans, his teammates and of course Inter who employ him.
Balotelli’s agent, Mino Raiola attempted to limit the damage by discrediting the TV show as just a joke and then pleaded with Inter fans to understand Balotelli was only 19 and didn’t know the consequences of his actions.
If Balotelli kept his promise to be more professional, he would have been staying back after training doing the hard yards to give Mourinho a reason to place him back in the starting line up. Instead Balotelli was on national TV wearing a Milan shirt reinforcing Mourinho’s decision to banish him from the starting line up.
Moment 2: Throwing His Inter Shirt Away After Inter Beat Barcelona 3-1
If there was ever a match to demonstrate Balotelli’s petulance, the Champions League semi-final first leg is it. Having replaced Diego Milito who had run himself to the ground, Balotelli not only didn’t bother to defend but spent most of the match gesturing to his own fans.
After the game had finished, instead of celebrating the 3-1 victory, Balotelli angrily threw his Inter shirt away to remonstrate with his own fans. It was an act of pure disrespect to Inter who pay him to wear the shirt but also soured what was a tactical masterpiece from Mourinho.
Marco Materazzi was so incensed with the disloyalty of Balotelli that he assaulted Balotelli in the tunnel, as witnessed by Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Mourinho said, “[…] I’ve tried to educate a great talent, there are thousands and thousands. This is a Champions League semi-final, the second most important tie in club football, and something ugly happened.”
Inter CEO Ernesto Paolillo said, “Balotelli’s gesture was terrible. Just terrible […]Will he be punished? Absolutely, yes.”
Later in the week against Atlanta, Inter fans had a banner which read, “There is no time to think about a child who doesn’t respect the shirt”.
In his three seasons at Inter, Balotelli had managed to alienate the entire country. Perhaps he needs to read Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Moment 1: Costing Manchester City the Europa League
Balotelli’s red card against Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League last night is to this date the most costly piece of stupidity from him. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan didn’t invest £750 million into Manchester City for them to crash out of the round of 16 in the Europa League.
In the 3rd minute, Balotelli missed from point blank range. In the 25th minute, he inadvertently blocked David Silva’s goal bound attempt. In the 36th minute, with City already down 2-0 on aggregate, he thought it would be a wise idea to go in “Nigel De Jong” style on Goran Popov straight in front of the assistant referee. Ironically City scored three minutes after the sending off.
City ended the match with more possession than Kiev and towards the end of the match, you would have thought Kiev were the team down to ten men.
Balotelli offered an apology after his stupidity (surprise, surprise) and said, "It was not a good way to repay the manager who has shown so much faith in me or the owners and fans who have made me so welcome since I arrived from Italy."
A normally mild mannered Mancini stated, "If it stays 11 versus 11, we would have probably scored two or three goals […] The problem for Mario is that he thinks he could be a fantastic player. But when he does something stupid like that, it is difficult for me, difficult for him and difficult for the team."
Do Mancini's words sound familiar to a certain Special One? Balotelli needs to change his attitude otherwise he’ll continue to alienate his fans, manager, teammates and employers just like he did at Inter.