The legend that is Super Mario
Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli speeds off in a bone white Maserati, wearing a glove hat and laughing with a wide, pearly white grin at a joke that would make all others cry. It doesn’t matter where he is – he’s driven everywhere and has the parking fines to prove it. He’s only 21, but he’s already won the treble with Inter, an FA Cup, the Golden Boy award, and an FA Cup Man of the Match nod. None of that matters, though.
What does matter is that the Man City forward unintentionally highlighted the absurdity of a foreign crowd duped into spending far too much money (in a recession) to watch two teams jog through a cash-grab friendly with an awkward spinning backheel that trickled wide of the goal. And that he threw darts at youth team players just for a giggle. And that he handed £1,000 to a homeless guy after having a good night at the casino. And that he took a kid back to school after a training session to confront the child’s bully before speeding off in that Maserati again.
Feelings about Man City’s No. 45 are jumbled and vicious. They’re also often based in the surreal version of the truth that gets reported. Do we feel bad for the kid adopted by an Italian family, subjected to violence-laced racial slurs and convinced that his Ghanaian birth parents only want him back because of his success? Do we threaten the teenager who casually taunts his enemies, ignores authority and infuriates with his blunt carelessness? Or do we laugh at the adult who loses a pre-match skirmish with a bib? The pigeonholes of personal opinion often make it difficult to come to terms with Mario, which only strengthens his young legend.
While a glamour model who considers herself to be his girlfriend yawns at a New Year’s party, unaware of her impending heartbreak and manic fits of angry texting, Mario supposedly has sex with her best friend in another room of the same house. When Mario gets in a car accident and the cops ask why he has a £5,000 wad of cash in his pocket, he supposedly tells them it’s “because I am rich”. When he’s in Naples, he supposedly hangs out with mobsters. When he’s at a hospital, Mario supposedly decides who lives and who dies. And when he’s playing against Aston Villa, he executes perfect overhead kicks with sickening ease.
Whether all of it is true or not doesn’t matter – it’s all become a part of Super Mario. Just like his iPad on the substitute’s bench, his admission that he was “s***” last season, his allergy to grass, his nine goals in 21 Premier League appearances before the age of 22 and his ability to create a nuclear warhead that could destroy Canada out of a pie and his own hair. So stop worrying, and revel in the very real possibility that at any moment, Mario Balotelli could drive through your third-floor window and take you to trespass at a women’s prison or melt all of your underpants or spin his tyres on top of Barry, the revolting work colleague who always picks his teeth while talking to you about his ulcerative colitis. Just don’t you dare touch his glove hat.
Follow Life’s a Pitch on Twitter @BTLifesapitch
Watch Man City live on BT Vision:
Man Utd v Man City, live 1pm, 23 October, Sky Sports 1
QPR v Man City, live 4:45pm, 5 November, ESPN