The Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has shed light on the complex dynamic between Mario Balotelli and his former manager Roberto Mancini, describing how the two were “like father and son”, albeit a father and son who would “kick lumps out of each other” on the training ground and insult each other in front of the squad.
In his official biography, “Born to Rise”, which is released on Thursday, Aguero devotes as much space to Balotelli as any of his City team-mates or managers, describing how the player would throw food around in the canteen and was often followed to the training ground by the police.
Aguero says: “His [Balotelli’s] relationship with Mancini often made me smile. They would fight like cat and dog during training and then walk off with their arms around each other’s shoulders. They would swear and shout at each other, but later they’d be like father and son.
“Quite often we’d have five-a-sides in training and Mancini would join in. He would make sure he was on the opposite side to Mario so they could wind each other up. He’d tell Mario and the rest of us that he wasn’t the manager in the game, just another player.
“He said we could say what we wanted to him and it would be fine so the game would begin and Mancini and Mario would be at each other, kicking lumps out of one another and shouting abuse until the final whistle when Mancini would say, ‘Right, I’m your manager again, now!’
“Mario would say, ‘You were s*** when you were a player … and it was a lot easier then than it is now.’ Mancini would say, ‘You wouldn’t have been able to play then or now!’ It was comical. Mario would go away and sulk for a couple of days and he was just like a little kid. I miss him being around the place because even though he was a little crazy, he was a great character to have around the dressing room.
Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Read the full story here.
After gambling at Manchester's 235 Casino, Balotelli walked away with winnings of £25,000. Feeling generous, he gave a homeless man 'with ginger dreadlocks and a beard' £1,000. Click here for the full story.
3/17 Parking fines
During his time in Manchester, Balotelli racked up £10,000 in parking fines and had his white Maserati impounded 27 times. Once he was pulled over by the police who wanted to enquire why he had £5,000 in cash on his front seat. Balotelli reorted: 'Because I am rich.' Click here for the full story.
Balotelli was 'bored', so threw darts at Manchester City youth team players to pass the time. Click here for the full story.
Balotelli explained prior to Euro 2012 how he would deal with racists: 'I will not accept racism at all. It's unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them.'
In a pre-season friendly for AC Milan, two fans ran onto the pitch to demand a selfie with the striker. Rather than shy away like most would in such a situation, Balotelli was more than happy to oblige.
Mario isn't a one trick pony. He can also iron, dance and read - all at the same time. Click here to watch.
For reasons never fully explained, Balotelli once sported a chicken hat. Thankfully it was a trend that never caught on.
Getty Images; Sky News
A bright spark at the body that co-ordinates firework safety material enlisted Balotelli soon after it was reported that some had been set off in the bathroom of his Manchester mansion.
10/17 Why always me?
The day those stories emerged, Balotelli scored for City in the Manchester derby, giving him the perfect opportunity to reveal *that* t-shirt.
11/17 The Queen
The Queen may be wary of Balotelli's return to England. During the World Cup, he said he wanted a kiss from Her Royal Highness should Italy do England a favour by beating Costa Rica. Thankfully for everyone involved, they didn't.
During a Europa League defeat to Dynamo Kiev, Balotelli had to be substituted in the 57th minute with his face swelling up. It emerged afterwards that the Italian is allergic to some types of grass.
During an Inter Milan press conference to announce the appointment of Andrea Stramaccioni as interim-manager, Balotelli interrupted proceedings to say hello. He was enjoying a day-off from Manchester City at the time. Click here to watch.
Balotelli's naked torso was to be one of the defining images of Euro 2012 - but he's not overly keen on celebrating goals. 'I don't celebrate goals, I'm just doing my job,' he infamously said. 'Does a postman celebrate when he delivered the mail?'
Balotelli has always appeared to be well loved by his team-mates. Perhaps it's the pranks he plays, like this one on Edin Dzeko. Click here to watch.
Balotelli was reportedly questioned by police in Italy when he was found taking a look around the grounds of a women's prison in Brescia. Apparently he simply fancied having a look. Click here for the full story.
Balotelli's relationship with former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was a complicated one. It has been described as a father-and-son type relationship - only the sort where they fight each other during training.
EAMONN & JAMES CLARKE
“I was sorry to see Mario leave because I think the world of him and I’m happy that we are still regularly in touch. I was injured when we were playing Barcelona at home in the Champions League and watching the game from the stand when my phone went off. I didn’t recognise the number but I answered it and heard, ‘Hey! It’s Mario! How’s it going d***head? Come on City, come on City!’ – and then he just hung up!”
Aguero said that Balotelli was prone to misbehaving “because he thought he could … he’d kick the ball away in different directions just to be silly, or he’d throw cheese over people when he was sat in the dining room”.
Aguero says that none of his team-mates were aware that Balotelli had his famous vest emblazoned with ‘Why Always Me?’ on underneath his City shirt for the 6-1 derby win over Manchester United in October 2011 - and had they known he would have been told to take it off. He also said that Greater Manchester police were occasional visitors at the club’s Carrington training ground to see Balotelli.
Aguero says: “He [Balotelli] woud say things like, ‘The police have just followed me all the way to the training ground and want to talk to me,’ and I’d say, ‘No wonder! You’ve probably just broke the speed limit or bumped into somebody!
“Sometimes he’d get a message from reception saying the police wanted to speak to him and he’s say ‘F*** the police!’ Then he’d say that he may have driven past the police pretty quickly and that could be the reason. He was always seeking attention.”
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