During his time playing for City, Mario Balotelli has amassed more controversy and rumours than any player in recent memory. He is quickly acquiring an iconic status, whether he gives a shit or not. If you heard the rumours that make it as far as, say, TV news, without seeing Balotelli on the pitch, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the man is some kind of saint.
If you actually looked in to all of the stories, he reads like a mixture of Mother Theresa and a rich-kid (edit: VERY rich) trying desperately to get an ASBO. However, if you went a step further and believed these rumours, then you’d have no problem juggling the following claims:
- He dressed up as Santa and gave out money to passers by in Manchester City Centre.
- He put up twenty or so homeless people in the Hilton in Manchester over Christmas.
- He threw a dart at a City youth player from a window because he was bored.
- He gave a grand to a homeless guy after winning big in a Casino with Samba.
- He picked up and drove a truant fan back to high school where he proceeded to mediate between bully and victim (my personal favourite).
- He has had his Maserati impounded at least twenty times, with parking fines exceeding £10,000
- He bought a Scalextric, a Table Tennis set and two Vespas from John Lewis when sent there by his mum to buy “essentials” such as an Ironing Board (okay, no wait this is my favourite)
- He went into the Uni of Manchester’s library and offered to pay off library fines.
- He accidentally set fire to his home by trying to set off fireworks out the bathroom window.
You see, the thing, there’s not only a discord between Mario’s actions on and off the pitch, but also within the rumours themselves. The rumours either posit him as a benevolent, good-natured person who wants to share his extraordinary wealth with those less fortunate than himself, or as a petulant, bored child with no regard for the safety of himself or others.
This benevolence or petulance (depending which side you take) can then be contrasted with the sheer ice cold, calculating nature of his footballing talents.
Remember the composed, unorthodox finish that started “The 6-1”?
Remember him unveiling the “Why always me?” T-shirt after said goal, an act that he had clearly anticipated and planned for to unprecedented levels. Its like he knew he was going to score.
Remember him stamping on Parker’s face (a true gentleman of the Game) in a way that escaped the ref’s immediate attention?
Remember every penalty he’s ever taken? Calm as you like, and this is before you even consider the celebrations. Or lack thereof. You see, this is why I think Balotelli is a much more complex creature than he first seems.
He obviously has some kind of persecution complex, having come out through his agent in the last couple of days saying that he may be “forced to quit” the English game that he “loves so much” because of persecution in the press and consequently harsh treatment from referees. “Aww, he’s just misunderstood,” you may think as your knee jerks. Wrong, I see through you Mario. The fact that you can score such vital goals and not show even an ounce of joy as thousands of people scream your name clearly makes you totally responsible for your own destiny, totally in charge of your own emotions and actions.
Being said he does do stupid, childish things which presumably negate all of these evil Machiavellian intentions (not to mention screwing his manager over, he probably could have scored against Liverpool in last night’s League Cup defeat) which is why I think the only rumours on the above list that are true (“true” in a sense that they weren’t cooked up by people affiliated with either Mario or City for positive publicity) are the ones in which he exorcises his childhood demons, either by confronting a bully (ironic because the same rumour-mongers who love this story would also have me believe he is a dart-throwing bully) or by yearning to return to a simpler time – where he wasn’t being paid about a million quid a month to kick a ball around on grass – by buying a Scalextric.
Fair play. Apparently he bought my mates a Nando’s as well, so thanks for that too.