Mario Balotelli announced himself to the world at the at the European championship in 2012 and at the World Cup two years later. Before then, he had dazzled firstly at Inter before moving across the city to Milan.
Balotelli earned his first cap for Italy in a friendly match against the Ivory Coast on August 10, 2010. He amassed over 30 caps and represented his country at UEFA Euro 2012, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup..
He was pivotal in the Italian national side that reached the final of Euro 2012. He won a bronze medal at the Confederations Cup. Along with Antonio Cassano, he is Italy’s top-scorer in the UEFA European Championships, with 3 goals. He is also Italy’s top scorer in the FIFA Confederations Cup, alongside Giuseppe Rossi and Daniele De Rossi, with two goals.
With these accomplishments, powerful and athletic built, not a few concluded that a new star had been born into the world’s most popular sport.
However, indiscipline, arrogance, lack of respect and latent laziness caused Balotelli to be shunted from one club to other without really making meaningful impact expected of his promise, talent and caliber.
Balotelli was once one of Europe’s most sought after young strikers, plying his trade at Inter Milan, AC Milan, Manchester City and Liverpool.
But his propensity for hi-jinx coupled with high profile spats with most of his former managers led many to conclude his off-field behaviour was a headache they could do without.
“Super Mario” famously set fire to his house the night before City played cross-town rivals Manchester United in 2011 after setting off fireworks in the bathroom. There were also reports he threw a dart at a City youth team.
Now 26, Balotelli left Liverpool to join Nice on a free transfer in August last year after being frozen out of the Anfield club’s pre-season tour by manager Jurgen Klopp.
Fifteen league goals in 23 league games as Nice finished third in Ligue 1 to reach next season’s Champions League qualifiers suggest it’s a move that has worked well for both parties — although there have also been three sending offs.
Turning around the careers of experienced big-name players, whose form and careers have dipped, has become a key strategy for Nice in recent years — and it seems to be working.
Nice has achieved its third placed finish ahead of more monied teams such as Europa League semifinalists Lyon and Marseille.
“We proved it with Hatem Ben Arfa and Mario Balotelli — superstars signing with us, who might be in trouble in other clubs, because a football player’s life can be tough sometimes, and who rediscover comfort and enjoyment here, which will promote their hatching or revival,” Nice Prseident Rivère says.
“But unfortunately, I think that we are not the only club in France and in the world, that is able to do that. Far from it. However, this has become a kind of trademark of OGC Nice.”
Unfortunately, the revitalizing past season on the French Riviera that could have culminated in appearance of OGC Nice in the Champions League was truncated by Balotelli’s lackluster performance against Napoli.
It is now looking likely that romance is over and ‘Super Mario’ is back to normal routine. The French club’s coach, Lucien Favre said this much when he blasted Balotelli for negative play on Tuesday.
While it is never too late to turn good, football reality demands that a player demonstrate the required discipline and focus in his prime.
Balotelli is at that stage and history will likely be recorded against him as far as the sport is concerned if he keeps the same corrosive tendencies as companions in the match towards retirement.