Mario Balotelli: The good, the bad and the ridiculous
Anyone who has paid any attention to his career so far should not be surprised by this weekend's happenings
Even in the crazy world of Mario Balotelli this has been quite a weekend.
In his 21 years the Italian has shown a prodigious talent for two things: playing football and bizarre off-field exploits.
And he managed to tick both those boxes over the last 48 hours.
In the early hours of Saturday morning he accidentally set his house on fire after letting off fireworks in his bathroom and less than 36 hours later he scored the crucial opening two goals for Manchester City as they routed their fiercest rivals at Old Trafford.
It is apt for a player whose career has constantly balanced brilliance and stupidity that arguably his greatest examples of both came so close together. Although anyone who has paid any attention to his career so far should not be in the least bit surprised.
Balotelli once declared that Lionel Messi was the only player in the world who was better than him, and much in the same way the Argentine has already at a young age accumulated more trophies than most do in their entire careers, so the Italian has been caught up in more controversies.
In his days at Internazionale he publicly declared himself a fan of bitter rivals AC Milan and he has twice been involved in training ground bust-ups, while at Manchester City and these are only minor entries on his list of mishaps.
He was alleged to have thrown darts out of a window at youth team players, been questioned by police about alleged contact with the mafia and once reportedly tried to drive into a women’s prison because he was bored and wanted to see what it was like.
Not all of his off pitch headline hitting has been negative.
When he met a young fan playing truant because of bullies, Balotelli drove to the boy’s school to confront them and bring the matter to the attention of the headmaster. He also gave a tramp £1,000 after a particularly big win at the casino.
However, for everything he has done off the pitch he has earned the nickname Super Mario for his exploits on it and his performance in Sunday’s extraordinary Manchester derby showed just why.
His expertly placed first-time finish broke the deadlock at Old Trafford and he finished off a lovely move involving James Milner and David Silva to double his side’s advantage.
Not to mention the fact that his run drew the foul that brought about Jonny Evans’ game-changing red card and his deft back-heel was key in the build-up to Sergio Aguero’s goal and all this happened before he was withdrawn from the action in the 70th minute.
Whether this weekend is remembered for his derby day brace or his premature celebration of Guy Fawkes Night, Balotelli remains a man of huge contrast and unless he can shake off the “˜bad boy’ image that his off the field shenanigans have earned him then his brilliance on the pitch will forever seem somehow