Similar to having two sides to every story, there are two sides to Mario Balotelli. Often portrayed as the notorious bad boy in football, nothing became more truthful and disquieting than the images flashed around the world of his eyes filling up with pure sorrow of Italy’s 4-0 Euro 2012 final loss to Spain.
It was a sight like no other: a contrast of two states of emotion- pure ecstasy lying parallel to the Azzurri disappointment.
While one side celebrated, Leonardo Bonucci was caught sobbing, Andrea Pirlo succumbed to the weight of emotions and battled to hold back the tears, but it was Balotelli, who once again, was in the frame of the paparazzi.
Frequently overshadowed for the negatives, or rather ‘bad attitude’, in his life, Mario taught the world a lesson when he showed a different side to him during the Euro 2012 campaign with Italy.
While anonymous during the first two matches against Spain and Croatia, Balotelli dampened the whispers by coming off the bench and scoring a 90th minute goal to beat the Republic of Ireland 2-0 and send Italy to the quarterfinals. A big ego with an even bigger weight of expectation on his shoulders, Balotelli stunned the crowd and the critics by firing in two goals to beat Germany in the semifinals and, more importantly, sending the Azzurri through to the final.
A feat which left him and his mother, Silvia Balotelli, proud as they embraced in a heartwarming hug which inevitably tickled the eyes of many onlookers: a first glimpse of his good side, which few were able to see.
“I waited for this moment for so long, especially since my Mom came up here and I wanted to make her happy,” divulged a jubilant Balotelli after the semifinal. “Tonight was the most beautiful of my life, but I hope that this Sunday is even better.”
Described as ‘unique, a modern striker, atypical’ by his national coach Cesare Prandelli, the beautiful image of SuperMario and his mom said it all. Capturing the adolescence of a boy, who was brought up through hardship and, who eventually found peace in a new home – it plain and simply showed glimpses of his human side.
An easy target for negative abuse, the former Inter striker stormed off in a huff and a puff when the Portuguese referee signaled full time in Kiev. Rightly frustrated at Italy’s 4-0 thumping to La Roja, Balotelli was running away from the overwhelming pain of disappointment in losing his first major international trophy.
Long gone was his bad boy image when he came out to receive his runners-up medal; the 21-year-old could not hold back the tears streaming down his face. Heart breaking not only for Italians, but for all football fans, when the realization finally hit home that Mario is just a 21-year-old boy who wanted nothing more than to fulfill his dream and passion of lifting the Euro trophy for his country.
He shied away from the on-field bad boy antics and play with his heart and passion in hope of making a nation proud; and regardless of the result, he and his fellow teammates did their country proud.