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“Why always me?” the famous statement that took the footballing world by storm was cast into the limelight by none other than Italy’s and Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli.
A controversial kid with a troubled background, Balotelli provides far from the run of the mill entertainment each week, seeing his name emit more headlines for the bad and the ugly than the good.
In the year of 1990 Mario was born in to a family of Ghanaian immigrants in Palermo, Sicily. Living in a cramped house and under poor living conditions, along with suffering from a life threatening disease- that saw him undergo various heart operations- the Barwuah family (his birth name) decided to give him up for adoption.
At aged three he was adopted by Francesco and Silvia Balotelli where they brought him up in the Province of Brescia. It was there where he began his football career with Lumezzane before signing for Inter in 2006 at the age of 16.
With Inter he scored two goals on his debut in a 4-1 over Reggina in a Coppa Italia match. His confident and cocky attitude, not to mention his ability to score sensational goals caught the attention of the nation, both good and bad.
At Inter he was adored by his fans, while among the rest of the Italian peninsula the African-born Italian was a constant subject of racial abuse week in and week out, seeing signs such as "Black Italians do not exist".
His response? Fight fire with fire.
As the continuous taunting grew, Balotelli became more cocky and ill-disciplined, but so did his eye in front of goal. The cheekier he became the more audacious his efforts in front of goal where, subsequently seeing him score some stunners.
However, under Jose Mourinho the two colossal egos did not amalgamate well as the Portuguese out casted him from the squad for long periods of the season, saying: “I can't accept that from someone who is still a nobody, who hasn't made it yet, who is still a talent with potential. He needs to train harder.”
Balotelli responded: “I had a love-hate relationship with Mourinho. He needs to learn how to respect people.”
August 12 2010 Inter and Manchester City agreed terms to sign the notorious striker seeing him reunite with the only coach, Roberto Mancini, who could possibly keep his temperament at a simmering point rather than boiling.
However, two days before penning in a deal with City, Cesare Prandelli awarded him his first national call-up to the Italian squad where they played and lost to Ivory Coast.
Since then, ‘Super Mario’ has featured four more times in the Azzurri strip where he has now been given the opportunity to lead the Italy attack.
With Antonio Cassano and Guiseppe Rossi facing up to six months on the sidelines, Cesare Prandelli is relying on the former U-21 star to deliver his goods in the national set-up.
With the certain ability to score from set pieces, his uncanny capability to have the guts to create the most daring of scoring opportunities, and his credited pace, the 21-year-old has no reason to not be able to become a national hero.
With the perfect opportunity to pave the yellow brick road to a starting spot in the Italian outfit for next year’s Euro, all eyes now remain on the highly controversial figure.
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