Whatever you think of Mario Balotelli as a footballer and as a man, there’s no denying that his presence at Liverpool is livening up this season’s Premier League. The maverick striker is struggling to fill the void left by Luis Suarez, and the longer his goal drought continues, the more likely he is to completely lose the plot. In readiness for that inevitable headline-grabbing piece of theatre, EX relives some of his craziest moments.
10: Drinks on me
During the Christmas period in 2011, when footballers up and down England are relaxing at home as they brace themselves for the demands of non-stop festive football, Balotelli decided to pop into a pub in Manchester, stick £1,000 ($2,000) behind the bar for the stunned local punters and play a few games of darts. The pub in question wasn’t a fancy establishment like the ones here in the CBD or on Club Street, far from it in fact. Even the landlord admitted: “It’s not a smart pub”, which isn’t the greatest advertising slogan I’ve ever heard.
9: Talking of darts…
Okay, we’ve established that Balotelli enjoys a game of darts, but surely someone should have told him that he had to aim for a round board adorned with different coloured segments rather than people… Yes, during his rather colourful spell at City, Balotelli was fined a week’s wages after being caught chucking darts at youth players from a training ground window. Yes, really. Thankfully no-one was injured, so maybe he wasn’t as good as he thought he was.
8: Good Samaritan
What do you do if you pocket a cool 25 grand ($50,000) at the casino? Obviously I wouldn’t know, but I doubt whether I’d unpeel a roll of notes and hand them to a tramp as Balotelli did in Manchester three years ago. A source told The Sun newspaper in England that the wad of notes totaled £1,000. The source added: “There’s a guy Balotelli always sees around town with ginger dreadlocks and a beard. He carries his possessions in two carrier bags. He was outside the club in the early hours so Mario handed him a wad of notes after his big win. The tramp couldn’t believe his luck. It was enough to keep him going for months.”
7: Ignorant speedster
While homeless men loved Balotelli during his time in Manchester, the same can’t be said for the city’s parking attendants. The Italian racked up almost £10,000 in parking fines, which led to his less than discreet white Maserati being impounded 27 times. Most of his tickets were for parking outside a fancy restaurant that was situated just a short walk from his apartment. Once, when police pulled him over and asked why he had £25,000 in cash on him, he replied: “Because I’m rich.” Difficult to argue.
6: Bully Boy
When a starstruck kid asked Balotelli for an autograph outside Manchester City’s training ground, the striker immediately wondered why the youngster wasn’t at school. It turned out that he was being bullied, so Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school and insisted on speaking to the headmaster and the bully boy to resolve the problem. When his football career finally goes belly-up, there could be a counseling role waiting for the crazy one.
5: King and Queen
Italy doesn’t have a Royal Family, but maybe Mario’s time in England converted him into a Monarchist. Or maybe he loves older women. Or just random mischief. Whatever the motivation, Mario managed to endear himself to the English public by tweeting during the World Cup that he wanted a kiss from Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II should he score the goals that helped Italy knock out Costa Rica, and in doing so hand Roy Hodgson’s men a qualification lifeline. As the Queen braced herself for a Balotelli booty call, she was probably relieved that the Italians went down by a goal to nil against the World Cup minnows, a result that sent the Three Lions crashing out.
4: Fight club
Towards the end of his City spell, Balotelli was in the news for all the wrong reasons. Remember the sending off against Arsenal that most fans thought had cost City the title? Then there was the fisticuffs with manager Roberto Mancini after a heated exchange on the training field in January 2013. A witness said: ‘They just started grappling with each other. He [Mancini] was trying to throw him around and show him who was in charge. But Balotelli is a big old boy and you are not going to move him that easily.’ Yes, sorry Roberto, our money would have been on the younger man.
3: Jailhouse (off his) rocker
When I was a kid I vividly remember waking from a nightmare that I was languishing in a prison cell; it scared the living daylights out of me. But for Balotelli, prison is a place of morbid fascination. So much so, that he and his 17-year-old brother Enock decided to have a little look around a women’s jail in Brescia, near Milan back in October 2011. ‘What the hell are you doing?’ said the policeman in total disbelief after he was called to the most bizarre of scenes. ‘Just fancied having a look,’ said the inquisitive front man.
2: Rocket man
Maybe it was Balotelli’s inquisitive nature that led to his infamously odd preparation for the Manchester derby in October 2011. While his single-minded City teammates were no doubt in the land of nod dreaming about turning over their bitter local rivals at Old Trafford in just 36 hours’ time, Mario was being dragged away from his mansion by the fire brigade after his attempt to let off fireworks in his bathroom didn’t go according to plan. Actually, what was the plan? How can letting off fireworks in your bathroom possibly end in anything other than smoke and tears? The damage was so bad that Balotelli had to live in a hotel until repairs could be carried out. However, he did have the last laugh, scoring twice in an infamous 6-1 win. You might remember his ‘Why Always Me?’ celebration? Why indeed…
When Balotelli’s mum popped round to see her son’s fancy new luxury apartment in Manchester, she soon realized that the apple in her eye was missing a few essentials, so she sent him off to a local department store to buy an iron, a mop and a vacuum cleaner. Simple. What could possibly go wrong? Several hours later, Mario returned. There was a van following him. Maybe he’d picked up something special for his Mum as a treat? Wrong. The van driver promptly unloaded a giant trampoline and two Vespa scooters – absolute essentials you’ll no doubt agree. Oh, and no cleaning products whatsoever.
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