Mario Balotelli was an ‘immature little rogue’ who loved getting in trouble and winding up Roberto Mancini, but he was also a ‘great teammate’ at Man City February 4, 2021 – Posted in: Soccer
There was definitely a time when Mario Balotelli was your favourite footballer.
His brilliance on the pitch may have only come in flashes, but even then he always found a way to have fun when producing a moment of quality – the ‘Why Always Me?’ vest reveal at Old Trafford and his tense celebration at Euro 2012 immediately spring to mind.
But when you have someone like Balotelli around you really have to take the rough with the smooth. He can’t always score a 25-yard screamer and don’t even try to tell him he should track back or defend opposition set pieces.
Inevitably, this led to him rubbing a few the wrong way during his time at Manchester City, with stories of training ground fights with teammates and manager Roberto Mancini emerging.
His time in Manchester came to an end in January 2013, leaving City with the sense that they failed in their task of fully getting the best out of him.
But he left many great memories behind.
Despite all the antics, he played a role in helping City win the Premier League in 2011/12, getting the assist for Sergio Aguero’s title-winning goal, while also winning the FA Cup with them the season before.
Gareth Barry, who played alongside Balotelli at the Etihad, accepts the Italian lacked maturity and was sometimes a tearaway for Mancini – but insists he was a crucial part of the City dressing room.
“He was good fun. Mario was harmless,” Barry told talkSPORT.com.
“He was an immature little rogue who liked messing around in training, getting in trouble, winding the manager up. You’ve seen the images of Mancini having him round the neck in training because he’s not listening.
“He was a great teammate. He was good to have in the dressing room because you need different types of characters, and he was one fans loved to talk about because of the many stories that came with him.”
Although there’s a sense we could’ve seen more of Balotelli at City, that’s the best we’ve seen of him in his career so far.
Now 30 years old, Balotelli is becoming another one of those wasted talents.
He currently plies his trade with Serie B side AC Monza, something that hurts his former teammate hugely.
“With Mario the thing that makes me sad is that he’s not fulfilled his career with the ability he’s got,” Barry added.
“I think Man City is the best we’ve seen him at club level, which was lucky for us to be involved in that.”
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