FEATURES » Mario Balotelli - a brief history
Mario Balotelli - a brief history
Mario Balotelli, the Manchester City striker, has been the big discovery of the just concluded European championship.
What’s so special about this young man who dedicated his goals against Germany to his foster Mum?
Apart from his undisputed talent and a moody, undisciplined, character this 21 year old is the first football player of African origins to become a national hero. This has unfortunately led so far to many racism episodes along his entire career.
Mario was born in Palermo in 1990 to Thomas and Rose Barwuah, Ghanaian immigrants. As an infant he had a series of operations because of life-threatening complications with his intestine.
When Mario was two the family moved to Bagnolo Melle, province of Brescia, where the Barwuahs asked for help from the social services because of their difficult economic situation and Mario’s health problems. In 1992 Mario was fostered by Francesco and Silvia Balotelli who already had children of their own.
In 2008, on his 18th birthday, Balotelli gained Italian citizenship and an Italian identification card.
According to Mario, his biological family abandoned him in hospital, used to beat him and then got in touch with him fame hunting, when it was becoming clear that he would have become a famous athlete. This version of the facts hasn’t been confirmed by Thomas and Rose Barwuah who pointed out their Christian faith in support of their good conduct and unselfish actions.
Mario was discovered by Walter Salvioni at the age of fifteen, while he was playing with the AC Lumezzane team.
According to Salvioni, Mario has been hard to control throughout his whole career. Mario would attend practice, but would not stay for the training afterward.
FC Barcelona gave him a trial when he was 15 but matters did not progress and in 2007, at the age of seventeen, Mario joined Internazionale but he was suspended by the new head coach Jose Mourinho for failure to show effort during practices.
Many of the fans did not like Mario and would yell racists chants.
During the European championship in Warsaw, fans made monkey chants directed towards Mario Balotelli. For this reason the UEFA opened a case against the Croatian soccer association.
Also the Spanish and Russian football associations have been fined 20,000 and 30,000 Euros respectively after racist incidents among their fans at Euro 2012 matches.
In Italy the main sport newspaper “La Gazzetta dello sport” published a racist sketch where Balotelli was compared to King Kong.
All these sad episodes didn’t prevent Mario, in December 2010, from receiving the Golden Boy Award for being the best European soccer player under 21 and being the star of Europe 2012.