Who is Mario Balotelli?
Mario Balotelli is an Italian footballer who plays for the Italian ‘Ligue 1’ club ‘Nice’ and for the Italian national football team. Born to African parents and raised in Sicily, Mario began his career as a footballer with ‘Lumezzane’ and made his senior debut at the age of 15. In April 2006, he made his debut in the ‘Serie C1’ league. Following that, he had a trial for ‘Barcelona,’ which turned out to be a bad experience for Mario, as he was not considered for the team. In 2007, he finally joined ‘Internazionale,’ but his two-year-long association with them was plagued with disciplinary issues, which had him getting suspended from the first team in 2009. ‘Manchester City’ acquired him in 2010, and Mario’s performance continued to flourish with the team. Following a violent incident, he left ‘Manchester City’ and joined the Italian club ‘AC Milan.’ After his one-and-a-half-year-long stint with ‘Milan,’ Mario returned to ‘Premier League’ with ‘Liverpool.’ He was soon loaned to ‘Milan’ and then transferred to ‘Nice.’
Childhood & Early Life
Mario Balotelli was born on August 12, 1990, in Palermo, Sicily, to Rose and Thomas Barwuah who had migrated to Italy from Ghana. The family moved to Lombardy when Mario was 2 years old. They were poor and could not afford raising four kids. This made Mario’s parents place him in foster care.
He was adopted by Silvia and Francesco Balotelli who lived in the Italian town of Brescia. For the first few years, Mario met his biological parents every weekend but soon stopped doing so and accepted Silvia and Francesco as his parents. The Balotelli family was rich and promised a very comfortable life for Mario.
It was later revealed that Mario’s biological parents had opted for foster care because of a life-threatening illness that had affected Mario as a kid. They could not afford expensive treatments for Mario. The Balotelli family came ahead with support when Mario’s parents needed it the most. When Mario grew up, he had the option to to go back to his biological parents but refused to do so, saying that he hated the fact that they had abandoned him as a kid.
Despite health complications, Mario started playing football at an early age. In 2001, he joined the youth club of ‘AC Lumezzane.’ Mario developed as a professional footballer and remained associated with them until 2006. Playing gracefully for several youth teams of ‘Lumezzane,’ he was finally promoted to the senior team of the club at the age of 15.
In April 2006, he made his competitive debut for ‘Lumezzane,’ against ‘Padova,’ in a ‘Serie C1’ match. He had grown into a highly competitive player by then, and tried to play with better clubs. This pursuit took him to a trial with ‘Barcelona,’ which was somehow uneventful. In 2006, he was signed by ‘Internazionale,’ on loan.
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By June 2007, Mario had completely joined hands with ‘Internazionale.’ He scored twice in a friendly contest with ‘Sheffield FC,’ which was also one of his early matches for the team. He scored two goals in a competitive match for his team in the ‘Serie A,’ against ‘Reggina.’ He became a national sensation following his electrifying performance against ‘Juventus’ in the quarter-final match of the ‘Coppa Italia.’
‘Internazionale’ ended up winning the ‘Supercoppa Italiana’ in 2008 and the 2007–2008 ‘Serie A.’ In late 2008, at the age of 18, Mario became the youngest-ever player to score in a ‘Champions League.’ In April 2009, Mario was subjected to racial abuse by some audience members in a game against ‘Juventus.’ After ‘Internazionale’ won the ‘Serie A’ for the fourth time in a row, the racist chants by ‘Juventus’ fans were heavily condemned by both the teams and ‘Juventus’ fans were banned for a match.
Soon, Mario started facing disciplinary concerns, as he did not appear for his practice sessions. The head coach of ‘Internazional’ was miffed with him for this reason. In addition to that, Mario did not get any relief from the frequent racist chants that were directed at him during most of his matches. ‘Juventus’ fans chanted racist lines against Mario even when he was not on the field.
He kept getting into trouble over his antics on the field. In 2010, he appeared on an Italian TV show, wearing a t-shirt of ‘Internazionale’s rival club ‘AC Milan.’ In April 2010, Mario threw his jersey on the ground, after a game, in response to ‘Internazionale’ fans who kept “booing” him due to his bad performances in the months preceding the match. The fans were angry and tried to lay their hands on him once the game was over. Mario condemned the incident three years later, stating that that was the only regrettable thing he had ever done.
In August 2010, Mario was officially signed by ‘Manchester City,’ and in his debut ‘Europa League’ match against ‘Politehnica Timișoara,’ Mario scored a goal which helped his team win the match. He then made his ‘Premier League’ debut in October, in a 3–0 defeat against ‘Arsenal’ on their home ground. His performance instantly made him popular with the ‘Manchester City’ fans, and by the end of the year, he won the ‘Golden Boy’ award for his remarkable performance.
Despite remarkable performances on many crucial occasions, Mario’s aggressive behavior on the field caused a lot of trouble for him. His team managers decided to let him go once the 2011–2012 season ended. However, Mario appeared in a few more matches for ‘Manchester City,’ including a title-deciding match against ‘Queen Park Rangers.’ ‘Manchester City’ ended up winning the title for the first time since 1968.
In Early 2013, ‘AC Milan’ announced that they had acquired Mario. Mario ended up scoring 26 goals in his 43 appearances for the team. However, his performance worsened after his stint with ‘Milan’ ended. For the 2014–2015 season, he signed with the ‘Premier League’ team ‘Liverpool,’ and in the 16 appearances that he made for them, he ended up scoring only one goal.
In 2016, ‘OGC Nice’ announced that they had acquired Mario from ‘Liverpool.’ Struggling with disciplinary troubles that refused to end, Mario performed rather well. He ended up scoring 29 goals in his 43 games for the team, and his contract was extended for one more year in June 2017.
Mario was not considered for the Italian ‘Under-15’ and ‘Under-17’ teams, as he was considered an immigrant. In September 2008, he made his international ‘Under-21’ debut for his national team and scored against Greece. He has represented his senior team in the 2013 ‘Confederations Cup’ and in the 2014 ‘FIFA World Cup.’
Mario Balotelli is known as one of the best-dressed footballers in the world. ‘GQ’ named him the second best-dressed man in 2012.
Mario was in a relationship with Raffaella Fico in the past, but it did not end well. She later claimed that she was pregnant with Mario’s child. Fico gave birth to her daughter, Pia, on December 5, 2012. In February 2014, DNA tests confirmed that Pia was Mario’s daughter.
Mario got engaged to Belgian model Fanny Neguesha in March 2013. However, the couple parted ways in September 2014.