Mario Balotelli: The Most Hated Man In The World, My New Favorite Soccer Player

Every sports fan has a penchant towards supporting certain types of players.

One friend in particular always likes the same kind of athletes. Quiet, humble, hard-working, disciplined. If I could just add one more adjective to this, I'd add boring.

I, on the other hand, seem to be the polar opposite of my friend. I like brash, arrogant, cocky, loudmouth personalities. Some might even call them jerks.

From players like Russell Westbrook to Cam Newton, from Stephen Jackson to Randall Gene Moss, from Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson to Gary Payton, there's no shortage of irritable players whom my fandom gravitates towards. In one sense I like these players because I feel like if I were on the biggest stage, I'd want to act in a similar fashion but probably wouldn't have the balls to actually do so. The other reason I Stan for these dudes is that genuinely, I can see the good in who they are on the playing field. Which leads me to my newfound favorite player that I have been Stanning over for the past 2 years.

(Super) Mario Barwuah Balotelli.

There are plenty of superlatives I could throw in front of you about Balotelli, but I'll give you a simplified reader's digest version. Super Mario is a 21-year old first-class striker for the 2012 Premier League champions of Manchester City and only the 3rd black player to make it on the Italian national football side. He's revered for his insane amount of pure talent and physical ability, and he's also seen as petulant, crazy, immature and exceedingly arrogant.

Of course he's my favorite footballer in the world.

"I told him, if you played with me 10 years ago I would give you every day maybe one punch in your head. There are different ways to help a guy like Mario. I don't speak with him every day, otherwise I would need a psychologist, but I speak with him because I don't want him to lose his quality. If Mario is not one of the best players in the world it will be his fault, because he has everything. Mario can be one of the top players in Europe. I don't want him to lose his talent." -- Roberto Mancini, manager of Manchester City

Here's the thing with Balotelli...

Mario Balotelli has fun with the media, the opposing teams, fans, all the time. Part of it comes across as sport for athletes to Balotelli. Dealing with a sometimes intrusive and abrasive media front puts athletes on the defensive. Or, in the case of the two mentioned, you have fun with them. Be it Balotelli telling folks that talk down on him to "shut up" after winning the league or inviting a street magician to his house to learn tricks so he could perform them in front of his younger brother. He genuinely doesn't care what others think. He's about him and his family.

Plus, he's really...really...really good.

Sure, his teammates covered his mouth, because they knew he might say something crazy and don't want him to draw another card. That's what good teammates do; they look out for their own and they know they need the man to make a run in Euro 2012. He's that vital, and he's still learning.

Oh...and the fans love him. They gave the man a song. Seriously, who just gets a song? He does.

Oh Balotelli he's a striker…
He's good at darts(1)/
He's allergic to grass (2) but when he plays/ He's fucking class.
Drives round Moss Side/ with a wallet full of cash(3)/
Can't put on his vest (4)/ But when he does he is the best
Goes into schools (5)/ Tells teachers all the rules
Sets fire to his gaff (6)/ With rockets from his bath
Doesn't give a fuck/ Cos he did it for a laugh
Runs back to his house (7)/ For a suitcase full of cash
Oh Balotelli …

The footnotes, these may or may not be true...

1) In March 2011, Balotelli threw at least one dart in the direction of youth-team players at the club's Carrington training academy. Nobody was hurt. It was a prank.

2) In March 2011, a busy month in Balotelli's blossoming career, it was alleged, probably untruthfully, that he was allergic to grass after suffering such a severe reaction against Dynamo Kyiv that he had to be substituted with a swollen face.

3) In September 2010 police revealed that Balotelli was found with £5,000 in his pocket after smashing his car. He has been known to hand wads of money to homeless people.

4) In March 2011 Balotelli had an astonishing fight with his vest. The vest won.

5) In May 2011 it was revealed that Balotelli took a truanting boy back to school to give bullies and teachers a ticking off.

6) Last week's fireworks were not attempted arson, just a premature bonfire-night practice gone wrong.

7) Reports suggested that the striker ran back to save both cash and the suitcase but the suitcase full of cash sounds more Balotelli.

How can you not revere this man??? This stuff is of legend, and the dude is only 21.

Age should never be used a crutch, but when you add that to a background that includes being sent to a foster home at age three after being abandoned by his parents can't be easy. Plus, I'd imagine being black in Italy would be like being black in South Dakota. In an age where athletes are scrutinized more than ever, where the media salivates to pick on athletes like Mario, and many want to get on their moral high horse to make themselves feel better, there's only one thing that matters with Balotelli.

He's a beast. He doesn't give a damn what you think of him. He wears an egregious haircut. And he's alright with me.


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