Monday, August 12, 2013

12 August 1990 - And The Game Hasn't Been The Same Since

On 12 August 1990, striker Mario Balotelli, the first black player to score for Italy, was born in Palermo.

His parents were Ghanaian immigrants who, when Balotelli was three years old, placed him in foster care at the recommendation of social services because they could not afford medical care. From that point on, he was raised by the Balotelli family and, at the age of 18, he became an Italian citizen.

He started his professional career in 2006 with Lumezzane, but made only two league appearances there before moving to Inter in 2007. In three seasons there, he helped the club to three Scudettos, but fell out with manager José Mourinho, who had replaced Roberto Mancini for Balotelli's last two seasons. In 2010, the striker followed Mancini to Manchester City, where he remained for two and half years, winning the 2011 FA Cup and the 2012 Premier League title, before moving back to Italy with AC Milan.

Balotelli earned his first cap for Italy in 2010 and scored his first international goal in November 2011the first for a black player. Since then, he has scored ten goals in 25 appearances, including both goals in Italy's 2-1 quarterfinal win over Germany at Euro 2012.

Despite his talent, Balotelli has drawn heavy criticism for a lack of discipline both on and off the pitch, including disputes with teammates and a scuffle with Mancini while at Manchester City. One of his most memorable incidents, however, was nearly setting his house on fire while shooting off fireworks inside.

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