The moment it all went wrong for Balotelli


Where did it all go wrong for Mario Balotelli?

Part of the answer can be traced back to this day five years ago, when the flamboyant striker was dragged from a pre-season match for attempting a back-heeled goal as arrogant as it was dumb. it was also Balotelli in a nutshell - rocks and diamonds. Sublime talent mixed with moments of madness. 

Boos rang throughout the stadium. Manchester City's prodigiously talented striker Mario Balotelli had just wasted a clear goal-scoring opportunity with a trick-shot that failed miserably, much to the bemusement of his team-mates.

City manager Roberto Mancini was as fed up as the paying customers, substituting Balotelli immediately after the incident, as the pair exchanged heated words on the touchline.

After bursting onto the scene at Inter Milan, ‘Super Mario’ had the potential to become one of the world’s best strikers, with power, precision, flair and a larger-than-life personality which made him a walking headline.

His meteoric rise culminated in that audacious moment against LA Galaxy. Since then, a string of off field antics and on-field inconsistency has seen the effervescent striker's career slowly fizzle out. 

October 2011 - Arrested for visiting a women's prison

Balotelli and his brother Enock were arrested after strolling through the grounds of a women's prison in Brescia. The striker's reason for visiting the prison - he was curious and wanted to have a look around.

October 2011 - The firecracker incident

Just 36 hours before the Manchester derby, the fire brigade was called to Balotelli's mansion after he was lighting firecrackers in his bathroom. To his credit, Balotelli shaked off the controversy and scored a memorable goal in the Manchester derby and the famous 'why always me' celebration was born. 

November 2011 - When he walked out for Italy in the wrong kit

During Italy's 1-0 defeat to Uruguay Balotelli notably emerged in the second-half wearing the Azzuri's old jersey.  

December 2011 - Broke curfew ahead of a big game against Chelsea because he felt like curry

March 2012 - Crashed an Inter Milan press conference

Despite playing in England at at the time, Balotelli rocked up unannounced to a press conference in Milan as former club Inter presented its new coach Andrea Stramaccioni to the media.

April 2012 - Receives his fourth red card of the season in a 1-0 loss to Arsenal

It was the last straw for Roberto Mancini, who declared after the game that he had given up on the striker.

"I hope, for him, he can understand that he's in a bad way for his future. And he can change his behaviour in the future. But I'm finished. We have six games left and he will not play," Mancini said. 

After struggling to cement regular game-time, he was eventually sold to AC Milan in January 2013. 

October 2012 - His on-field spat with team-mate Aleksander Kolarov

The pair argued over a free-kick against Sunderland, before Kolarov pulled rank and City scored from the resulting set piece.

January 2013 - A training ground bust-up with coach Roberto Mancini

September 2013 - Misses a penalty for the first time in his career

It was the first miss in 22 attempts, as Pepe Reine showed Balotelli was human in AC Milan's 2-1 loss to Napoli.

August 2014 - Signs for Liverpool for $28 million

Balotelli was brought in by Brendan Rodgers to replace Luis Suarez and the move proved to be a complete bust. The striker managed just one goal in 16 league appearances for the club, before he was loaned out to AC Milan, and scored one goal in 20 Serie A matches.

December 2014 - His Instagram post which caused a stir  

In an attempt to combat racism, he posted a photo of nintendo character Super Mario, which attracted criticism for being anti semitic, to which Balotelli responded: "My Mom is Jewish so all of u shut up please." Balotelli was stood down by Liverpool for one match as a result.

It’s seems no longer worth the gamble on a player once dubbed ‘unmanageable’ by Jose Mourinho, as the 25 year-old appears to have lost his magic touch.

He's quickly transitioned from a youngster with bags of potential, to another star which failed to live up to the hype and, after the Liverpool striker was told to find another club, we're left wondering who will take a punt on not-so-super-Mario.