Mario Balotelli Barwuah is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a striker for Italy national team. He started his professional football career at Lumezzane and played for the first team twice before having an unsuccessful trial at Barcelona, and subsequently joining Inter Milan in 2007. Inter manager Roberto Mancini brought Balotelli into the first team, but when Mancini left, Balotelli’s disciplinary record fell away. He had a strained relationship with new manager José Mourinho and was suspended from Inter’s first team in January 2009 after a number of disciplinary problems. With doubts over his career at Inter, former coach Roberto Mancini had since moved to Manchester City and decided to give Balotelli a fresh chance at a new club. He joined Manchester City in August 2010, where his performances and off-field activities continued to be enigmatic and unpredictable. Balotelli eventually fell out of favour with Mancini after a “training ground bust up” between the two in January 2013. His departure from City and return to Italy with A.C. Milan followed several weeks later. After 18 months at Milan, he returned to the Premier League with Liverpool. An unsuccessful season with the Merseyside club led to his return to A.C. Milan on loan and subsequent departure on a free transfer to Nice and then to Olympique de Marseille.
Italy vs Saudi Arabia
May 28th 2018
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Balotelli 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 expressed his willingness to represent Italy at international level once he acquired an Italian passport. Italy under-21 head coach Pierluigi Casiraghi announced his intention to call-up Balotelli once he obtained Italian citizenship. On 13 August 2008, Balotelli was finally issued Italian citizenship. 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 Greece. Balotelli was named in the final 23-man squad for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 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 Swedish midfielder Pontus Wernbloom. Italy were eliminated by eventual champions Germany in the semi-finals following a 1–0 defeat. Balotelli earned his first cap for Italy in a friendly match against the Ivory Coast on 10 August 2010. He amassed over 30 caps and represented his country at UEFA Euro 2012, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup; he helped the national side reach the final of Euro 2012, and also won a bronze medal at the Confederations Cup. Along with Antonio Cassano, he is Italy’s top-scorer in the UEFA European Championship with three goals. He is also Italy’s top scorer in the FIFA Confederations Cup, alongside Giuseppe Rossi and Daniele De Rossi, with two goals.
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Mario Balotelli was born in Palermo, Sicily, as the son of Ghanaian immigrants. The family moved to Bagnolo Mella in the province of Brescia, Lombardy, when he was two. In 1993, when he was three, Balotelli was placed in foster care to the Balotelli family when his own family was unable to pay for his health care needs. His foster parents are Silvia, the Jewish daughter of Holocaust survivors, and Francesco Balotelli. They lived in the town of Concesio, Brescia, in northern Italy. At first, he stayed at the Balotellis during the weekdays and returned to his biological parents on weekends. He later was permanently fostered by the Balotellis full-time and adopted their surname. In June 2012, he dedicated his goals that put Italy in the final of the Euro 2012 football championships to his foster mother Silvia. Balotelli had to wait until his 18th birthday to request Italian citizenship, as his foster family had not adopted him. He officially gained citizenship in Concesio on 13 August 2008. After the ceremony he released the following statement: “I am Italian, I feel Italian, I will forever play with the Italian national team”. Mario has three biological siblings: Abigail, Enoch and Angel Barwuah. Enoch Barwuah, two years younger than Balotelli, is also a professional footballer.
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Agile, quick, creative and powerful, Balotelli is credited with pace, flair, physical strength, technical ability and an eye for goal. His height, elevation and physique allow him to excel in the air, and he is capable of scoring with his head or with either foot, from both inside or outside the penalty area. Although he normally plays in a central role as a main striker, he is a versatile forward capable of playing anywhere along the front line and has also been deployed as a winger or as a second striker. Despite his talent, he has been criticized by managers, teammates and the media for a perceived poor and immature attitude at times, as well as his for his poor movement and work-rate, inconsistency, mentality, and volatile temperament and arrogant behaviour on the pitch, which has often led him to pick up unnecessary bookings throughout his career. Balotelli has also been accused of diving, and is thus regarded by teammates and the media as a promising but undisciplined player.Due to his powerful shot, Balotelli is also a set-piece specialist, and is regarded as one of the best penalty kick takers in world football, a view backed by his former Manchester City goalkeeping teammate Joe Hart. Balotelli missed his first competitive penalty against Napoli on 22 September 2013 when it was saved by Pepe Reina, the first time in 22 attempts as a professional.
“I told him, if you played with me 10 years ago I would give you every day maybe one punch in your head. There are different ways to help a guy like Mario. I don’t speak with him every day, otherwise I would need a psychologist, but I speak with him because I don’t want him to lose his quality. If Mario is not one of the best players in the world it will be his fault, because he has everything. Mario can be one of the top players in Europe. I don’t want him to lose his talent” Roberto Mancini
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Balotelli is nicknamed “Super Mario” after the Italian video game character Mario from the iconic Nintendo series. Balotelli has been given a reputation by the media for being a difficult character and taking part in questionable and often amusing activities. He was once described by José Mourinho as “unmanageable”. In June 2010, Balotelli and a group of friends fired air pistols in the open in Milan’s Piazza della Repubblica. Although denying he is “crazy” as his mentor Roberto Mancini frequently claims, Balotelli has admitted he “sometimes does strange things”. In 2010, he was photographed in the company of two noted Mafia mobsters. Balotelli gained a cult following after joining Manchester City. Manchester City supporters regularly sang a song with lyrics which made reference to his activities. Musician Tinchy Stryder recorded a song in Balotelli’s honour, “Mario Balotelli”. Balotelli has been the subject of numerous newspaper stories since joining Manchester City; some have been confirmed as true while others have turned out to be erroneous. Within days of joining Manchester City, Balotelli was involved in a car crash. It was reported Balotelli was carrying £5,000 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 involving Balotelli have included driving into a women’s prison in Italy to “have a look round”, and throwing darts at a youth team player during a training ground “prank” – all of which have been confirmed to be true. Balotelli has also been subjected to tabloid rumours about him confronting a bully in a school after querying why a young Manchester City fan was not attending classes, and giving £1,000 to a homeless man on the streets of Manchester. Both of these reports turned out to be false. Video footage before Manchester City’s UEFA Europa League match with Dynamo Kyiv 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 match at Chelsea. In September 2011, Balotelli was reportedly seen using his iPad while on the substitutes’ bench for Italy during their match with the Faroe Islands, although he denied this on a visit to a prison later that week. 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, Balotelli and his friends set Balotelli’s house on fire when a firework was let off in it; later that week, Balotelli was unveiled as Greater Manchester’s ambassador for firework safety. On 5 November 2011, at the annual fireworks display at Edenbridge, Kent, a 12-metre tall bonfire effigy of Balotelli was unveiled, complete with a Super Mario hat, a house in the right hand and a “Giant TNT” firework in his left, which were reference to his recent incident. In December 2011, Balotelli broke a 48-hour curfew before Manchester City’s match 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. In March 2012, when Inter Milan (Balotelli’s former club) held a press conference for their new manager Andrea Stramaccioni, Balotelli gatecrashed the event. In December 2012, Balotelli was due to take Manchester City to a Premier League tribunal to protest against a fine of two weeks’ wages over his poor disciplinary record, but eventually dropped his application a day before the hearing. On 1 December 2014, Balotelli was accused of racism and antisemitism for posting an image on Instagram of the video game character Mario. The image promoted anti-racism by telling others to be like the character, attributing him qualities stereotypically associated with different ethnicities, ending the idea that he “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a jew”. In response to criticisms, he wrote, “My Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please.”
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On 29 January 2013, A.C. Milan’s organizing director Umberto Gandini announced the club had agreed to sign Balotelli from Manchester City on a four-and-a-half year deal rumoured to be worth €20 million plus bonuses and add-ons. Manchester City’s then manager Roberto Mancini suggested he had sanctioned Balotelli’s sale to Milan for the good of the player, describing the forward as “like another one of my children” and saying Balotelli could become one of the best players in the world when restored to Serie A. On 31 January 2013, the Serie A giants completed the signing, and Balotelli was awarded the number 45 shirt, the same number he wore for Inter Milan and Manchester City. Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said, “Balotelli in Rossoneri is a dream that has been realized. It is a transfer that everyone wanted: club, president and fans.” Balotelli received a warm reception when he returned to Milan. His arrival saw some fans scuffling with police and one policeman was taken to hospital with head injuries. It was said Silvio Berlusconi’s signing of Balotelli would help him gain extra votes in the 2013 Italian general election. On 3 February 2013, Balotelli made his debut for Milan and scored two goals, including a last minute penalty, to earn a 2–1 victory over Udinese. The win lifted Milan to fourth in the table, ahead of Inter Milan on goal difference. In the next two matches, Balotelli scored two goals, including 30 yards (27 m) free-kick against Parma. With that goal, he equaled Oliver Bierhoff’s record of four goals in first three matches for Milan. In his fifth appearance, Balotelli appeared as a substitute against Genoa and scored his fifth goal for his new club. In the match against Palermo, Balotelli continued his impressive scoring streak with two more goals, one from a penalty and another from an M’Baye Niang cross. Balotelli then scored four goals in three consecutive matches: one against Catania, one against Torino and two against Pescara. On the final day of the season, Balotelli scored his 12th goal in 13 matches for Milan as the team defeated Siena to qualify for the 2013–14 UEFA Champions League. He ended his first season with Milan with 12 goals in 13 appearances as Milan finished 3rd in Serie A. On 22 September 2013, Balotelli missed a penalty in a competitive match for the first time in 22 attempts as a professional; the kick was saved by Pepe Reina as Milan lost 2–1 to Napoli. During a match against Catania on 1 December, Balotelli accused opponent Nicolás Spolli of racially abusing him, but there was insufficient evidence for any action to be taken. The following week, Balotelli scored two goals in a 2–2 draw with Livorno, including a sensational 30-yard direct free kick that was clocked at a speed of 109 km/h. In August 2014, Balotelli joined Liverpool for a £16 million transfer fee to replace the outgoing Luis Suárez.