The troubled timeline of Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli – Part three

With Mario Balotelli moving across Europe from Inter to Manchester City, Football Italiano’s James Dielhenn takes a look at the baggage the 20-year-old brings with him.

Part three

February 2010: Ghana Coach Milocan Rajevac issues his last plea for Balotelli to play for his country of birth at the upcoming World Cup. He declined, prompting Rajevac to brand him “amateurish.” Rajevac went on to state: “Nobody will go over and talk to him to change his decision. I have no place for him so he can go ahead and dream of playing for the Azzurri, which I know he won’t get.”

March 2010: Balotelli is left out of Inter’s travelling squad for the Champions League tie with Chelsea after another row with Mourinho. The player’s agent Mino Raiola claimed he did not know why his client had been left out by Mourinho, who refused to speak about the supposed argument. The Portuguese Coach demanded an apology which did not come for a long time, and Balotelli didn’t play for Inter in the meantime.

March 2010: Inter fans were already disillusioned with Balotelli, but a little-known television interview with a comedy channel provided his most controversial moment to date. Balotelli first claimed that Inter beat Chelsea due to the players, not Mourinho. The presenter of the television channel then presented Balotelli with a Milan shirt with his name on it, due to the speculation linking him with Inter’s biggest rivals. Later on, thinking he was off camera, Balotelli donned the shirt. The pictures were seen nationwide, and Balotelli had become the most disliked man at Inter.

April 2010: In the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, Mourinho brought on Balotelli for the final 15 minutes, as Goran Pandev had run himself into the ground for the team’s sake. Conversely, Balotelli failed to chase and hassle Barcelona for possession as Inter tried to defend a narrow lead. When he got the ball, he tried an extravagant shot from 40 yards that sailed a long way wide, prompting Inter fans to barrack their player for not keeping possession. Balotelli, in turn, swore at his own fans. As the final whistle went, Inter were jubilant in victory, but Balotelli threw his shirt on the floor and trudged off, an act that Mourinho later called “an ugly thing.” Reports then claimed that Inter teammates including Marco Materazzi confronted Balotelli in the tunnel and a physical encounter ensued. Security then had to help Balotelli to his car as angry supporters tried to attack him. Several Inter players were quoted in the coming days condemning Balotelli’s attitude.

April 2010: Super Mario issued an apology on Inter’s website for his behaviour against Barcelona, and for the arguments with Mourinho that saw him left out of previous squads.

May 2010: The Coppa Italia final put Inter against Roma.. He stayed out of trouble until the final minutes, when he embarked on a run down the wing. Roma captain Francesco Totti caught him and brutally – and purposefully – kicked his leg. Totti was sent off in disgrace, later claiming that the premeditated kick was because of Balotelli’s previous problems with Roma fans. Totti went on to claim Balotelli “threw mud at a city and its people. This always happens to the same player, which may be why he isn’t welcome in his own team.” Balotelli hit back, claiming Totti racially abused him during the match. “Totti was the best striker,” Balotelli said. “I’m not surprised he took it out on me, because now I’m the best.”

July 2010: Balotelli turns up seven minutes late for Inter’s first pre-season training session under new Coach, Rafa Benitez. Benitez said he is “an important player,” citing his wish to get to know Super Mario. The young striker is then criticised for failing to sign any autographs before being the first player to leave to go home.

August 2010: Balotelli completes a £24m deal to Manchester City and issued a statement on his personal site: “I’m sorry that I’m leaving Inter and Italy, because I would have preferred to continue my professional career in my country. I’m going where I hope to find the space I need to play, which is very important for me, as well as a calm environment around me.”

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