- 6'2" (1.89m)
- 194 lbs (88 kg)
- August 12, 1990
Flinging his shirt to the ground and flexing his muscles with a stern look etched on his face as the ball whistled past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and into the top corner to send Italy through to the Euro 2012 final, Mario Balotelli had finally laid his marker. It was an unforgettable celebration.
For so long, he had been the boy who promised so much but concerned even more. But on that famous Azzurri night in Warsaw, Balotelli had finally come of age to not only announce himself as Italy's No.1 striker but also as one of the world's most explosive forwards.
A footballer who divides opinions across the game, Balotelli is perhaps the most unpredictable forward in world football. Capable of both the magical and moronic, he is never far away from the limelight and has a long-winding catalogue of crazy antics to his name.
Beginning his footballing life with Lumezzane, he attracted the attention of Inter Milan in 2006 and made the move on loan before signing permanently for the club in 2007. Given his chance to shine by then-manager Roberto Mancini, he was mainly used as a substitute but impressed against Juventus in the Coppa Italia and claimed his first Italian title after making 11 appearances. Against Anorthosis Famagusta the following year he became the youngest Inter player ever to score in the Champions League -- at 18 years and 85 days -- and continued to impress in Italy despite being subjected to some horrific racist abuse from away supporters.
A fallout with Jose Mourinho in 2009 saw his attitude and desire questioned, while a reported dressing-room fight with his teammates after beating Barcelona in the 2010 Champions League semifinals heaped further attention on him. Having collected three back-to-back Italian titles and a Champions League winners medal, he was linked with a move away from the San Siro. A long and drawn-out move to Manchester City, worth 30 million pounds in total, was finally completed in August 2010.
At Eastlands, however, he struggled to deliver on a consistent basis. Indeed, he was involved in numerous bust-ups on and off the pitch, and manager Roberto Mancini said Balotelli would never play for City again after the striker was sent off at Arsenal. But, five weeks later, he showed a glimpse of his talent as a turn and pass in the box provided Sergio Aguero with a dramatic injury-time Premier League title winning goal.
As the 2012-13 season reached its halfway point, however, City had had enough of his antics and Balotelli was allowed to join AC Milan in the January transfer window. It proved to be an inspired signing by the Rossoneri as Balotelli struck 12 goals in his first 13 Serie A games to help Milan edge out Fiorentina for the final Champions League spot. Balotelli's 14 league goals could not help Milan the following season, though, as a miserable first half to the campaign -- which saw Massimiliano Allegri sacked and replaced by Clarence Seedorf -- witnessed the club miss out on European football altogether for the first time in 16 years.
Strengths: Agile, quick and powerful, he has all the attributes that a top-class striker should have.
Weaknesses: Temperamental and hot-headed, his off-field issues overshadow his talent. His work-rate and attitude have also been criticised.
Career High: His brace for Italy in the Euro 2012 semifinal victory over Germany.
Career Low: In March 2010, he came under heavy criticism from Inter fans after he publicly sported an AC Milan shirt, leading to an apology on the club's website.
Style: Languid, confident, composed, a stylish attacker.
Quotes: "When I score, I don't celebrate because I'm only doing my job. When a postman delivers letters, does he celebrate?"
"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 gives his assessment of Mario Balotelli in April 2012.
Trivia: He was born to Ghanaian immigrants Thomas and Rose Barwuah in the Italian city of Palermo, and adopted by the Balotelli family at the age of three. Balotelli also became the first black player to appear for Italy in a major tournament.
|Milan||A - Liverpool||Aug 2, 2014||Champions Cup||L 2-0||Substitute||0||0||3||1||0||2||0||0|
|Milan||A - Man City||Jul 27, 2014||Champions Cup||L 5-1||Substitute||0||0||2||0||1||1||0||0|
|Milan||A - Man City||Jul 27, 2014||Int||L 5-1||Sub-On 46.0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Italy||H - Uruguay||Jun 24, 2014||WC||L 0-1||Sub-Off 46.0 min||0||0||1||0||4||2||1||0|
|Italy||H - Costa Rica||Jun 20, 2014||WC||L 0-1||Started||0||0||3||2||4||0||1||0|
|Italy||A - England||Jun 14, 2014||WC||W 1-2||Sub-Off 72.0 min||1||0||3||2||0||1||0||0|