Brilliant but bad

By admin
06 May 2011

Soccer fans know him as Super Mario. Tall, powerful and unstoppable, Mario Balotelli is one of the most exciting stars in the game right now; a dream striker who produces goals with both feet.

But despite the Italian’s flashes of brilliance there was hardly a flood of offers when he became available for transfer last year.

Football bosses across Europe knew the implications of signing the 20-year-old; along with all the goals would come a giant ego and a seriously bad attitude.

This was reportedly why Inter Milan accepted £22 million (R242 m) from Manchester City – much less than he was really worth.

Now he’s proving to be a handful at the English Club. After scoring two goals for City against West Brom he was sent off for kicking an opponent. A few months later he was red-carded after delivering a kung-fu kick to an opponent in a Europa League clash against Dynamo Kiev.

Nobody can control him.

“Every day I fight against Mario and sometimes I would like to give him a punch,” says City managerRoberto Mancini.

Born in Palermo, Italy, to poor Ghanaian immigrants he suffered serious health problems as a toddler and was taken in by Francesco and Silvia Balotelli.

When he started showing a flair for soccer his parents wanted him back.

Mario turned his back on them and went on to represent Italy’s Under-21 side, rejecting several approaches from Ghana.

On occasion he has been a victim of racism. While with Inter Milan he was verbally abused by Juventus fans who chanted “black Italians do not exist” and “no to a multi-ethnic national team” throughout a game.

In his personal life he has also made enemies. Last year he dumped girlfriend, Melissa Castagnoli, a former Miss Italy, by SMS just before she was due to appear on Italian TV.

He’s a man of few words but his many tattoos say a lot.

“One is the happy mask and on my other arm [is] the angry mask,” he says. “Then there’s a lion because I have the same spirit as a lion and I have another that represents friendship and family. Then there’s a gun which is a Mafia warning: it means if anyone harms my family they’ll pay for it.”

He insists he isn’t nearly as hardcore as he looks. “I’m not a bad boy,” he says with a show of teeth. “I’m a normal guy.”

Read more in YOU, 12 May 2011 and decide for yourself - bad or normal...

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