Mario Balotelli. He’s great isn’t he?
Just after placing the ball into the bottom right hand corner of Manchester United’s goal, Balotelli turned and lifted his jersey to reveal a sky blue t-shirt which read “Why always me?”. The question was a self-deprecating nod to the events that occurred on the evening of Friday 21 October, when Balotelli’s friend set off fireworks in his bathroom which caused a blaze in his home.
This is not the first or the last time that Balotelli will be in the headlines. Since his arrival in England he has crashed a car, thrown darts at unsuspecting passers-by, had training ground bust-ups with team mates and played on his iPad whilst on the bench for a national team game.
With Balotelli, it’s not entirely clear how much, if any, of his behaviour involves forethought. At face value he appears to be completely and utterly bonkers. And I love it.
If Balotelli were a TV show he’d be combination of Takeshi’s Castle and Wipeout. For the uninitiated, Takeshi’s Castle was a Japanese game show that aired between 1986 and 1989. The basic premise of the show was that Count Takeshi owned a castle and set up impossible and silly challenges for players to attempt to capture him. Wipeout follows a similar theme and films contestants navigating a giant obstacle course in the shortest time possible. With both Takeshi’s Castle and Wipeout the concept is to
raise some cheap laughs with lowest common denominator humour – watching people fall face first into mud, for example.
For too long, football has been inundated with the predictable, the run-of-the-mill and the boring. There are fewer and fewer real characters in the modern game. Some will dislike the eccentric players – perhaps because they do not behave like a model professional or a role model when they are off the field. Others will try to analyse and describe the psychological reasons for his behaviour.
Since the departure of Jose Maria Gutierrez Hernandez (aka Guti), Real Madrid have not had anyone as
supremely talented as well as being simultaneously a few sandwiches short of a picnic. With his fashion and hairstyle choices combined with his unpredictable temperament on the field, Guti was always going to dominate the back pages, as well as popping up on the front pages as the object of tabloid speculation.
Cristiano Ronaldo is more of a caricature of the modern footballer – the gelled hair, the supermodel body and the appropriate collection of super cars collecting dust at the obligatory mansion. If Ronaldo were a TV show, he’d be Jersey Shore – a reflection of the so-called reality of the life of the modern footballer.
I’m not trying to understand Balotelli’s behaviour or to explain it. I’m not even certain that Balotelli is crazy/mental/bonkers/off his rocker or even a few fries short of a Happy Meal. Let us simply enjoy the talent and entertainment value of Super Mario. He certainly brings some much-needed colour and life to the Premier League.