Mario Balotelli: 10 Reasons Why He Is the Most Entertaining Man in Soccer
Petulant but blessed with no small amount of skill and technique, the Italian is far from the finished article, but it seems that nobody has been able to harness his potential.
Balotelli hasn't exactly set domestic leagues alight with goals and outrageous manoeuvres, but he has brought something to the table that the likes of Messi, Ronaldo or Rooney can't match. Utter ridiculousness.
He is only 20 years old yet has grabbed enough headlines for his off-pitch antics to put Ashley Cole to shame. But this isn't a young footballer drunk on power who philanders and sends text messages of his genitalia to unsuspecting females.
Balotelli may be the quintessential man-child, but there are two sides to his ridiculousness which yield both immaturity and a strange vein of heart-felt passion.
Manchester City fans are yet to see the best of this young man on the pitch but they've already had a glimpse of a player that makes the beautiful game that much more interesting.
I give you 10 reasons why Mario Balotelli is without a doubt the most entertaining man in soccer. Your comments are appreciated!
Posing on Camera Wearing the Colors of a Bitter Enemy
Paul Ince forever earned the ire of Hammers fans for this, something that turned out to be a simple mistake by a young, naive player.
Balotelli has gone one better and put poor Incey to shame. While he was still at Inter, Balotelli proclaimed in an interview that he supported AC Milan, bitter enemies of all who support the black and blue.
Furthermore, during an appearance on Italian satire Striscia la Noticia ("The News Slithers"), he not only accepted a Rossoneri shirt with his name on it, but also then put it on.
Picture for a moment Cesc Fabregas revealing he had been a Spurs fan all along, then donning the white on camera. Bad news.
Throwing a Tantrum After His Team Knocked out the World's Best
In the semi-final before Inter Milan secured a long-awaited Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich last season, Jose Mourinho's side knocked out much-fancied Barcelona. Although the Spanish side won the second leg 1-0, Inter put on a defensive master-class which not even Messi could find a way through.
The victory was had through sheer discipline, spacial awareness and tactical brilliance from Mourinho. In the first leg, Inter registered a 3-1 victory over the Catalans, but celebrations were tempered somewhat thanks to Balotelli who was a late substitute.
Brought on to run out the end of the game, Balotelli in typical fashion wanted to make a mark and opted to play a little selfishly when simply passing the ball would have run down the clock.
This didn't sit too kindly with fans who were on the brink of celebrating a history victory, and they jeered the Italian close to the final whistle.
Balotelli threw his shirt down in disgust and stormed off the pitch. Rarely has a player thrown a temper tantrum after such a victory but Balotelli is no normal human being.
He was criticized by captain Javier Zanetti post-game and also was on the receiving end of a few choice phrases from Marco Materazzi.
Pulling a "Sergio Busquets" to Get an Opposition Player Sent Off
If there is a player in the game who is a bigger diver, cheat and all-round hatable character than Barcelona's Sergio Busquets please, enlighten me.
I don't know whether he spent too much time with Rivaldo or what exactly but if I had a dollar for every time he has gone crashing to the ground (usually clutching his face), I would be driving a 2011 BMW S1000RR.
In a match against rivals Juventus in 2009, Balotelli was battling with Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo for possession in the ball. An errant elbow caught Mario in the shoulder and seeing as it was Serie A, he immediately threw himself to the ground.
As the Juventus player was already on a yellow card, the referee immediately handed Melo a second caution and therefore a red. Safe to say Balotelli recovered from the incident, but there's nothing like a good dive to earn the ire of rival fans.
Whether it has stemmed from this incident or not, Balotelli has been on the receiving end of a continuous stream of racial abuse from Juventus fans, even when they aren't playing Inter Milan.
Striking One Back for the "Little Guy"
When you think of soccer players who go out of their way to do something decent for another person, you'd imagine the likes of David Beckham, Gianfranco Zola or perhaps Ryan Giggs to be behind it.
Professional athletes make their fair share of philanthropic contributions or charitable donations, and sometimes go so far as to halt civil war, but its the "good guys" who are credited with this. Enter Balotelli.
It was a small act, something that the Italian doesn't boast about or bring up in interviews, but it says something about his character nonetheless. The striker was approached by a boy during a Manchester City training exercise for an autograph, and Balotelli immediately questioned him on why he wasn't in school.
Upon learning that bullying was behind the kid's absence, the Italian drove both the boy and his mother back to school for a confrontation. Both the headmaster and the bully were involved, and Balotelli didn't leave until everything was sorted out.
Aside from being probably the best moment in that child's life up until now, this serves to show that Balotelli's appetite for unpredictable action can have positive benefits.
Suffering an Allergy That Would Be Hilarious If It Wasn't so Serious
If a dolphin was allergic to water, or Arsene Wenger was allergic to beautiful free-flowing soccer then it would be a comic irony indeed. For a professional athlete to be allergic to certain kinds of grass, that's just a kick in the teeth!
Similar to Lazio's Giuseppe Sculli, Bordeaux's Yoan Gouffran and golfer Ian Poulter, Balotelli suffered a severe allergic reaction during Manchester City's defeat in Kiev, Ukraine.
All jokes aside, Balotelli suffered severe swelling and rashes all over his body, enough for the City medical squad to have adrenaline on standby in case he deteriorates into anaphylactic shock.
He has been derided in the media for not "putting in a shift" and therefore has received more than a little stick for this allergy but it seems to be the real deal.
From an agricultural perspective, it's interesting as Balotelli has only reacted to certain types of grasses, otherwise he'd be unable to play the game at all.
You'd think it would simply be a matter of isolating a particular strain and eliminating it from stadiums to prevent this sort of problem in the future, but science has a way of being more complex than that.
Driving into a Prison Simply Because He Was Curious
Ask most people what an average Friday night entails and you'd expect perhaps a few drinks, maybe a sporting event or some other form of entertainment.
Certainly, if one were to drive past a women's prison and see that the gate is open, you likely wouldn't think anything of it. But you're not Mario Balotelli, are you?
Driving around in his fancy Mercedes one Friday, Balotelli and a buddy drove into a women's prison simply because they were curious about a prison that is all female.
Guards at the facility immediately were suspicious when they drove in, but after recognizing the player and questioning them, nothing ultimately came of the incident.
When compared to other things that have happened to soccer players, this certainly isn't anything mind-blowing, but it's certainly amusing simply because it was so random.
Carrying Around Wads of Cash Simply Because He Can
We all know that soccer players make more money in a week than most of us will bring in this year.
Anyone playing for Manchester City is likely in the top-end of the earnings bracket, as the richest club in the world can pretty much afford to pay as much as they need to secure the services of anyone.
Yaya Toure's wages are estimated to be around $360,000 per week, while Balotelli's earnings are probably a little south of that.
Soon after completing his transfer to City, the young Italian went for a rip around town with his custom-built Audi R8 which he had brought over from Italy.
He was almost finished his trip when he collided with a BMW. Both drivers were unhurt and police arrived on the scene to do their due diligence.
Upon finding £5000 cash in Balotelli's pocket they were instantly suspicious that perhaps something illegal was going down.
It was nothing of the sort, however. When the police asked him why he was carrying around so much cash, Balotelli simply replied, "because I am rich." Fair enough.
Throwing Sharp Projectiles at Teammates
When you keep a large contingent of young males confined together for any significant period of time, there is bound to be some shenanigans going down.
Many players have spoken about pranks that are played on each other, especially when a new player joins a team or someone is called up for their first cap at a national level.
After being sent off against Dynamo Kiev during City's Europa League campaign, Balotelli was blowing off some steam at City's training complex.
Unfortunately he could keep his activities discreet enough to avoid notice, and was caught tossing darts at some of the club's youth players.
Nobody was injured but imagining a man as a large as Balotelli tossing darts out of a window then giggling to himself in glee is pretty damn hilarious.
Showing His Softer Side After Cashing in at the Casino
Most people have divided opinions on gambling. Some people see it as a ludicrously stupid way to throw away hard-earned with little to no chance of ever winning anything.
Others may relish the adrenaline and excitement of gambling away their wealth on the flip of a card or roll of a dice. Balotelli makes enough money that it probably doesn't matter if he loses a week's wages at the tables, but its what he's done with his winnings that has grabbed public attention.
While on a recent trip to a Manchester casino with Blackburn's Christopher Samba, the Italian came out £25,000 on top.
Instead of lighting the huge pile of money on fire or buying a suit made out of diamonds (complete with solid-diamond neck tie) Balotelli chose to spread the wealth.
Upon leaving the establishment, he handed £1000 to a dread-locked homeless guy sitting outside.
You have to think, for all the fantasies a homeless person has about getting inside a Casino and striking rich, I'm sure they'd never imagine someone would just drop them a fat wad of bills when they're sitting outside.
Unable to Properly Clothe Himself in Soccer Attire for Training
You've likely seen this before but it gets better every single time I watch it. During a pre-match warm up with team-mates Balotelli seemed to struggle with getting his bib on.
After failing to put the thing on by himself, he was given a little help by a steward, but it seemed that the player wasn't keen on white after all and demanded a blue bib (as if that was the problem all along). Not that he was able to put the blue one on either...
After seeing this, it is now absolutely impossible to take this guy seriously.