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Mario Story

Mario was born in Palermo on August 12th 1990, but has lived in Brescia with the Balotelli family since he was two.

From the very start mum, dad, brothers Corrado and Giovanni, and sister Cristina (all much older than him) looked after little Mario with all the love of a parent, brother or sister.

First steps
When he was just five Mario began playing football for the Mompiano parish team and was immediately grouped with the older boys because of his exceptional technical skills. In 2001 he started playing for A.C. Lumezzane and made his first team debut when he was 15 on April 2nd 2006 (Padova-Lumezzane, Euganeo Stadium). And so, thanks in part to a special exemption granted by the Serie C league (you have to be 16 to play for a professional team), Mario became the youngest player ever in the history of this category.
In summer 2006 Mario played a five-day trial at Barcelona’s Camp Nou, scoring 8 goals and putting some unforgettable experiences under his belt. His brothers, who are partners in a foreign trade consultancy, decided that it was up to them to find him the ideal team and entered into a series of negotiations. But Mario’s citizenship was an issue: although he was born in Italy, he was only eligible to become an Italian citizen when he turned eighteen. And that put an end to talks with Barça. Then, on August 31st, F.C. Internazionale arrived on the scene, made him a good offer and Mario began playing for the club’s Allievi Nazionali (under 16) team. He scored one goal after another and was promoted to the Primavera (under 20) category, scoring 8 goals in 11 matches and helping secure the Bressanone Scudetto for the team. With the Primavera line-up he won both the 2006-07 Scudetto and the Viareggio 2008 Youth Tournament.
Serie A debut
When he was 17 he made his first team debut for coach Roberto Mancini in the championship final between Cagliari and Inter (December 17th 2007). Shortly afterwards he was given a regular place on the team and scored two goals in the Italian Cup (December 19th, Reggina-Inter 1-4). But it was in January 2008 that Mario came to everyone’s attention when he scored two amazing goals against Juventus in the Italian Cup and the media couldn’t praise his “phenomenal” skills enough. These 4 goals also made him the top scorer in the 2007-2008 Italian Cup (together with Cruz and Iaquinta). In the April 2008 match between Atalanta and Inter (0-2), Mario chalked up his first goal in Serie A, and then went on to help win the Scudetto by scoring again against Fiorentina and Siena.
Italian citizenship
When he turned 18 Mario was finally granted Italian citizenship (August 13th 2008), but this was the first time a case like Mario’s had arisen and there wasn’t time for him take part in the Beijing Olympics. His citizenship ceremony was held in Concesio Town Hall, with Mayor Diego Peli, his family and friends, and numerous journalists attending. “I’d like to thank my family for their support during this long process and everyone here. I’m happy to be an Italian citizen”, said Mario, who then made a gift of his Inter shirt to the Mayor and received a Municipality medal to symbolise his ties with Concesio and the local community.
Italian team shirt
In September 2008 Mario played his debut match for the Italian national Under 21 team trained by Pierluigi Casiraghi and immediately scored his first goal in an international match (Italy-Greece).
Two months later he scored his first goal in the Champions League (Anorthosis-Inter, 3-3, November 2008), becoming the youngest player in the history of Inter to score in a Champions League match.
Triumph with Inter
Mario’s 2008-2009 season opened with the Italian Super Cup match won on penalties against Rome (8-7), in which he scored Inter’s second goal and one of the penalties. On March 1st 2009 he scored two goals for the first time in the same Serie A match (Inter-Rome, 3-3). But this was when the insults began, culminating in the deplorable racist chants by Juventus fans during the match in April 2009. However, this didn’t stop Mario winning the Scudetto with Inter once again. In all he has won three Championships with Inter (2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010), plus an Italian Cup (2009-2010), an Italian Super Cup (2008) and the Champions League (2009-2010).
Italian national team debut
In August 2010, two days before this twentieth birthday, Mario made his debut in London with the Italian national team coached by Cesare Prandelli.
It was a very emotional moment for him. And although the Azzurri lost 1-nil at West Ham against the Ivory Coast, everyone agrees that Mario made a great debut.
His new team: Manchester City
So many things can happen in just a few days. After his Italian national squad debut, on August 13th Mario flew to Manchester to sign the contract with his new team Manchester City, where he met up again with trainer Roberto Mancini and celebrated his debut by scoring an important goal.
In the European League match against Timisoara, Mario scored the goal that put his team in the lead (0-1) just a quarter of an hour after entering the field of play.
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