Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughGoodbye Mario, thanks for the memories - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Goodbye Mario, thanks for the memories - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Goodbye Mario, thanks for the memories

‘Super Mario’ or ‘Mad Mario’ is a question I have seen posed to an awful lot of people in the media since news of Mario Balotelli’s transfer to AC Milan broke.  For me, he is an enigma whose departure will make the Premier League a far less entertaining place.

Balotelli came to England with a reputation of being a difficult character, famously being branded as ‘’unmanageable’’ by former Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho.  Since coming to England in 2010, Balotelli has done very little to try and dispel the reputation of being as difficult to handle off the pitch as he could be, in very flashes, on it.

You can’t help but laugh at some of players antics, reports as outlandish as holding a firework display in his own bathroom to driving into a Manchester women’s prison simply to ‘’have a look around’’ were proved to be true.  While other rumours surfaced that Balotelli had given a homeless man £1000 and that he had pulled up at a petrol station and paid for everybody’s fuel were proven to be false.  However, it would not surprise me in the slightest if they turned out to be true.  These are exactly the sort of eccentric actions many have come to not only love, but expect of the Italian international.

It is not just some of Balotelli’s off the field ‘antics’ that have endeared him to so many, some of his style choices have also raised many a smile.  There was the famous ‘chicken’ hat he wore on a match day just weeks after joining the club, and who will ever forget his camouflage Bentley?  I look at Balotelli – the person – as simply a big kid who is able to do the stuff a kid would because of his healthy weekly salary.  Given the chance, who wouldn’t turn the exterior of their car camouflage?!

Unfortunately, on the pitch is a different matter.  A player who has un-doubtable talent, Balotelli has often under delivered on the pitch.  Although a goal return of 20 in 54 appearances, many of which from the substitutes bench may deceive, many of the Italians goals have been from the penalty spot, a role possibly given to him to stop him sulking if he is over looked.  Balotelli only made two notable contributions in his two and a half years at Eastlands. 

Firstly, he found the net twice in City’s 6-1 demolition of fierce rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford in October 2011, celebrating his first by revealing a t-shirt bearing the message ‘’why always me?’’ a message sent to the English media in relation to a serious of negative headlines.  His second, a more telling contribution, was a through ball played to Sergio Aguero in the last minute of the last game of the 2011-12 season against QPR.  Aguero was able to finish the chance created by Balotelli, and in doing so securing the Premier League Title for City.

Other than these contributions, Balotelli has had a string of incidents of ill discipline.  As well as being sent off several times and numerous club fines, Balotelli has been involved in a series of training ground bust ups.  The controversial Italian has clashed with Micah Richards, club captain Vincent Kompany and even his own manager Roberto Mancini, a man who has fought the players corner countless times during his time in Manchester.

Balotelli showed in flashes for Italy during Euro 2012 that he has the potential to be one of the top European strikers, unfortunately he has failed to show the same application when playing in the premier league.  However, Balotelli has offered plenty of entertainment to many premier league fans and for that Mario, I thank you.  And in answer to your much earlier question, you think it is always you because more often than not, it is.

Aaron Sharp