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World 2018 43 Mario Balotelli's career moments 31873965 Super Mario Super+Mario World

He might have only just turned 23 years old, but Mario Balotelli is already recognized as one of the most talented, if somewhat eccentric, forwards in the world. While his bizarre antics off the field might dominate the headlines, there’s no doubting his skill and potential. Boasting an impressive record with each of the clubs he’s played for, as well as a cabinet full of accolades, Mario has accomplished a career full of honors in just a few short years. Join us as we look back on the best moment of Balotelli’s young career.

REUTERS/Giorgio Benvenuti - Action Images/Reuters
World 2018 43 Mario Balotelli's career moments 31873971 A clean slate A+clean+slate World

After falling out with management in Manchester, Balotelli moved to AC Milan in January of 2013. While many claimed Balotelli would unsettle the Italian side with his antics, Balotelli silenced his critics by scoring a brace in his debut match against Udinese. It started a historic streak, as Balotelli would go on to score 12 goals in 13 matches to help Milan to third place in Serie A. Seemingly more focused and content back in Italy, we should expect much more from Super Mario this coming season and beyond.

REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino - Action Images/Reuters
World 2018 43 Mario Balotelli's career moments 31873966 Power moves Power+moves World

For the early matches of Euro 2012, Balotelli seemed mostly anonymous, slipping in and out of matches without making any significant impact. That all changed, however, during Italy’s semifinal match against Germany. Two powerful strikes gave the Italians a 2-1 victory and pushed any doubts regarding his potential to the side. His shirtless, flexing pose after the second goal also became one of the most famous Internet memes of all time.

REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger - Action Images/Reuters
World 2018 43 Mario Balotelli's career moments 31877305 Assisting for the championship Assisting+for+the+championship World

With the 2011-12 Premier League title still undecided going into the last day of the season, Manchester City needed a win against QPR to guarantee their first league title since 1968. Tied 2-2 with just seconds left, City seemed to have conceded the title to Manchester United, but then Balotelli slid a pass to a rushing Sergio Aguero for an unforgettable match-winning -- and title-clinching goal. It was Balotelli’s only assist of the season.

PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GettyImages - Getty Images
World 2018 43 Mario Balotelli's career moments 31873968 Maybe this is why Maybe+this+is+why World

In April 2012, Balotelli received his sixth red card of his young career for a tackle against Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna. Already agitated by Balotelli’s nonstop off-the-field issues, Mancini appeared to have finally lost his patience, suggesting that Balotelli would not play any part in the remainder of City's season. However, something would change all that (for the moment)…

REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth - Action Images/Reuters
World 2018 43 Mario Balotelli's career moments 31873964 Why always me? Why+always+me%3F World

There’s no better way to win the adoration of fans than hammering a much-loathed rival, something that Mario Balotelli was plainly aware of when City met Manchester United in October of 2011. While many will remember the match for the score line, a 6-1 thrashing of United in which Balotelli scored twice, many more will remember the stunt Balotelli pulled after knocking in the opening goal. Pulling up his jersey while celebrating, Balotelli unveiled a t-shirt with the words ‘Why Always Me?’ underneath.

Action Images / Lee Smith - Action Images/Reuters
World 2018 43 Mario Balotelli's career moments 31877303 Breaking out Breaking+out World

While Balotelli deviated between promising performances and disciplinary issues for much of the season, the talented youngster was on point during Manchester City’s 2011 FA Cup Final match against Stoke City. A confident performance earned him Man of the Match honors, and handed Manchester City their first trophy in 35 years.

REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth - Action Images/Reuters
World 2018 43 Mario Balotelli's career moments 31873963 First Premier Leauge goals... and red card First+Premier+Leauge+goals...+and+red+card World

Injuries prevented Balotelli from making an immediate impact at City, but he took the Premier League by storm during a match against West Brom in November. With two first half goals, his first of the season, Balotelli seemed set for a breakout performance. But just minutes into the second half, Balotelli received a straight red card for kicking out at Youssuf Mulumbu. This give and take between good and bad would come to define Balotelli’s time in Manchester.

Action Images / Andrew Couldridge - Action Images/Reuters
World 2018 43 Mario Balotelli's career moments 31873969 Gaining... negative attention Gaining...+negative+attention World

In March 2010, Balotelli came under heavy criticism from fans after publicly sporting a jersey of rivals AC Milan on an Italian TV show. The next month, he caused more controversy in a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona after throwing his jersey on the ground after the final whistle in response to Inter fans who had booed him. Those incidents, coupled with a strained relationship with coach Jose Mourinho, led to Balotelli being sold to Manchester City that summer for €29.5 million.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images - Getty Images
World 2018 43 Mario Balotelli's career moments 31877304 Gaining national attention Gaining+national+attention World

Having made his Inter Milan debut just a month prior, Balotelli came into his team’s 2008 Coppa Italia quarter-final match against Juventus as a bit of a mystery, even to Inter’s own fans. Two crucial goals and ninety minutes later, Balotelli was a household name across Italy. A ‘man of the match’ performance proved decisive, giving Inter a 5-4 aggregate victory, and signaled a bright future for the young Italian.

Action Images / Reuters / Alessandro Garofalo - Action Images/Reuters
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