More ‘bad news’ than ‘bad-to-the-bone’, the name ‘Balotelli’ is one no self-respecting football fan wants to hear associated with their club. Not even Barnsley, apparently.

Writer: Andy Afford / Illustrator: Gabriela Zmau

The 32-year-old, Palermo-born, 12-club-man is one of four siblings born of Ghanaian parents. With younger brother, Enoch Barwuah, also a footballer. In this instance with USD Carravaggio in Serie D of the Italian League.

In 2007 it was an almost instantaneous move from local club, Lumezzane, that saw the teenager basking in the bright lights and blue-and-black stripes of Inter Milan. However it was the club’s Champions League semi-final exit in 2010 that signposted the almost inexorable and inevitable career trajectory to follow.

Season-long disciplinary problems under the management of Jose Mourinho culminated in ‘Super Mario’ throwing his shirt to the ground at the game’s final whistle. Meaning that by this time it wasn’t only the club’s management and his team-mates that wanted a piece of him. It was the fans as well.

Manchester City stumped up a not insignificant €21.8m for the lone wolf striker. His season started with injury but ended in personal triumph when named the winner of football’s Golden Boy Award as the game’s top teen. Only for the cheeky scamp to remark that only one of the previous winners was marginally better than him. That player being Lionel Messi. And that he’d never as much as heard of second-placed cove, Jack Wilshire.

He somewhat unrealistically sued City in 2012 after receiving a fine for his poor disciplinary record. Only to withdraw from the case at the last. With relations clearly on the slide, Balotelli somewhat provocatively signs for Milan’s other club, AC, the following year.

Luis Suarez out, Mario Balotelli in, meant that football’s ‘shithouse door’ near swung off its hinges as the Italy forward joined Liverpool in 2014. But with one goal in 16 appearances – including a spell spent on loan, again in the red-and-black stripes of Milan – France beckoned. Then Italy. Then Turkey. Then Switzerland, where he currently plays. In this instance at FC Sion, and only after a 2022 Deadline Day signing was effected when his future at Turkish club Adana Demirspor looked somewhat dicey after coming to blows with manager, Vincenzo Montella.

Bless him, and his charming ‘Why Always Me?’ t-shirt.

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