It hurts me when I go to a foreign country to see tourists alienate themselves …
Mario Balotelli can’t escape the world of media. He was born to be in the spotlight. From controversial tweets to football bans, there’s a reason he has been nicknamed Super Mario.
Liverpool has just signed the lead rock and roll star of the footballing world. Not everyday can a footballer be on the cover of glamorous global magazines such as Time and also be named as one of the world best dressed men in GQ.
With the departure of Uruguayan flesh hungry Luis Suarez, controversy has replaced controversy at Anfield. Suarez has left huge shoes to fill, can Super Mario be the man to fill the boots and take Liverpool to their first Premiership title in 24 years? A feat even the footballing genius Suarez couldn’t help Liverpool achieve.
He is a striker of many gifts. World class technique to strike a football, strength to hold off the meanest of centre backs and surprising pace and agility to scare any defense in the world. You may say he is the complete package. For £16million? The bargain of the season on paper. But nothing so sweet can come without the sour.
A man of controversy, his on and off the pitch antics can’t escape his reputation. People love to hate him, but love to watch him. You probably saw him struggling to put on a bib on the Man City training ground, which a primary school kid would do in a matter of seconds. But on the pitch his two pure world class goals against Germany in 2012, you can say single handedly took Italy into the Euro Championship final. He is Mr.Hollywood of football. A rebel against the system with a natural talent for the game. An athlete who chooses to do what he likes when he likes. Whether it’s playing with his iPad on the bench during an international match (Rumored) or throwing darts from a window to the youth team while at Manchester City. A full baggage with the excess weight. What you see is what you get.
But there’s a hatred for him even by his own people. He was born in Italy, raised as an Italian by his foster parents and has always expressed his pride for the country. Yet even on his home soil, he is the enemy. Even when he puts on the blue national jersey and scores goals for his country, in the sounds of joy and celebrations from the thousands at attendance, you can hear the jeers from his own people. It’s sad even when he’s the hero he can still be seen as the villain. But no one likes to talk about the positives that he does. His teammates have previously complimented Mario’s generosity and how he is rumored to consistently donate half of his wages to charity.
Why always me? One might say.
Joern Ferhmann via Wikimedia
Mario is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. When he was substituted for AC Milan in an abysmal performance against Napoli earlier this year he ended up in tears at the dugout. He was booed throughout the game and this lead to rumors that this was the reason he was upset. But earlier that week after a long legal battle, he found out that he was a father to a 2-year-old daughter named Pia. Maybe this was why he was upset. We will never know. He also cried when he was on top of the footballing world against Germany in Euro 2012. Balotelli was seen holding his mother crying in the crowd after scoring two goals against Ireland in the group stage.
He’s a player who got unfairly heavily criticised on Facebook earlier this year by thousands of fans for not eating African dish Jollof Rice in 15 years. Is that fair? I mean his biological parents who are originally from Ghana, abandoned him when he was 2. His foster parents took him in and Balotelli was raised as an traditional Italian ever since. He reads and bleeds Italian. Can you blame him? Since then he has locked off all communication with his biological father who has spoke publicly about Mario and their situation. And I believe Mario has made the correct decision. The man has been through hard times and although he is one of the top paid athletes in the world, money will never be the solution for personal emotions.
Misunderstood? Maybe. It isn’t easy for a footballer such as himself who is constantly trending on social media to live up to expectations.
danheap77 via Wikimedia
Notably, Balotelli has had confrontations with the top managers across the globe. The “Special One” Jose Mourinho labeled him as “unmanageable” and Italian manager Roberto Mancini grappled with him in practice after an uncalled challenge on a teammate. But both men cannot doubt the talent he possesses.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers is one the Premier League’s up rising managers. He has done wonders with Liverpool, narrowly losing out the title to Man City and finishing the season with 101 goals. The most the team has scored since 1895-86. The loss of Suarez who was leading that front line is massive. But big club needs big characters and big game changers. When Mario Balotelli is focused, 100% fit and happy, his football speaks volumes. But Brendan Rogers has a big task taming the likes of Mario.
In poker terms, Rogers has raised before the flop by purchasing what may seem the bargain of the decade, but let’s see if the gamble will pay off. Only time will tell what the cards have in store for Liverpool.
However his Liverpool debut against Tottenham wasn’t headline material but it showed potential glimpses. Yes he didn’t score the goals everyone expects and squandered opportunities you expect him to finish. But his work rate and movement was there, but even more importantly his attitude was on point.
Welcome back to the Premiership Mario Balotelli.
Headline image by – Stefano Sabile via Wikimedia.
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