Robert Mancini has backed his striker in the face of the player’s disciplinary problems and the results are beginning to show, and how. The enigmatic player, who scored 10 goals in 28 appearances for City, last season,has already found rival nets on eight occasions in nine starts for the Premiership leaders, this season, with six goals coming from as many appearances in the Premier League.
Saturday’s game against Newcastle underscored Balotelli’s importance in Robert Mancini’s scheme of things. After a goal-less 41 minutes, City earned a penalty and Balotelli made no mistake, side-footing the ball into the bottom corner. In celebration, Super Mario satisfied himself with the folding of his arms and a steely stare. This was the form of Balotelli’s retaliation after being penalised for what the referee considered excessive celebration after scoring in City’s 6-1 drubbing of Manchester United.
Mancini was effusive in his endorsement of his star striker after the game. The City manager is reported to have said, “Mario is a great player; he’s becoming better and better and taking on more responsibility for the team. He is relaxed and confident, I never thought he would miss the penalty. I am pleased at the way he has improved because all the work is down to him. I am just helping him become the best player he can be because I don’t want him to waste his talent. He feels the same and that’s why he has been working so hard.”
Beginning his professional football career at Lumezzane, where he was promoted to the first team at age 15, Balotelli went on to join Internazionale in 2007, after an unsuccessful trial at FC Barcelona. Mario’s mentor at Internazionale was Robert Mancini, and after Mancini’s departure from the team, the player’s disciplinary record worsened and added to his strained relationship with Mancini’s successor, José Mourinho.
Mario made his Serie A debut on 16 December 2007 when he replaced David Suazo in a game against Cagliari that Inter won 2-0. he scored his first goals for the side, three days later, in a Coppa Italia game against Reggina, in which he contributed a brace in a 4-1 win. In November 2008, the young striker scored his first Champions League goal that came in a 3–3 stalemate with Anorthosis Famagusta, thereby setting a new record for being the youngest Inter player to score in the Champions League. Balotelli, who was 18 years and 85 days old at the time, beat the previous record set by Obafemi Martins, by 60 days.
Born in 1990 to Ghanaian immigrants to Italy, Mario was fostered by an Italian couple, from age three, and after requesting Italian citizenship, on his 18th birthday, was granted it on 13 August 2008. In three seasons with Inter, Balotelli scored 28 goals in 86 matches, with 11 coming from 40 starts in the 2009-10 season. His success was a double-edged sword for Balotelli who was subject to racial abuse by Juventus fans after he scored for Inter against the side.
After a disturbed tenure at Inter, during which he was suspended in January 2009, Balotelli eventually joined his former boss Robert Mancini at Manchester City, in August 2010, the month in which the talented striker also got his first cap with the Italian National squad, in a friendly, against the Côte d’Ivoire.
The off-field antics of Mario Balotelli have earned him attention and notoriety in tabloid papers. He is said to have “racked up thousands of pounds in parking fines, thrown darts at youth team players, spontaneously visited a women’s prison, dished out £1,000 to a tramp, personally driven a young City fan to his school to confront a bully, grappled unsuccessfully with a bib and declared himself allergic to grass”, and in a piece of characteristic showboating tried to score a back-heeled goal in an exhibition match against LA Galaxy, resulting in his immediate suspension.
But at the end of the day, Super Mario’s performance on the football pitch is what will count. With eight goals from nine matches, we can surely count on many more to come, in the long season ahead.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.