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Mario Balotelli’s most memorable moments

As Italy says farewell to star striker Mario Balotelli, The Local looks back at the footballer’s most memorable off-the-pitch moments.

Mario Balotelli's most memorable moments
Mario Balotelli announced last week he was leaving A.C. Milan for Liverpool. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The footballing world was in shock last week after it was announced that Balotelli was leaving A.C. Milan and heading to England's Liverpool in a €20 million transfer deal.

The star striker has gained international fame for his football skills, but has also become popular for his off-the-pitch antics.

In recent months he has lived up to his “bad boy” reputation by being caught smoking on a train and posing with a shotgun, but he has also delighted fans with a series of cheeky stunts.

Here are the top five best Balotelli moments:

1) Balotelli takes on 'Ice Bucket Challenge'

Not one to miss a trend, Balotelli last week joined a series of international celebrities in the “Ice Bucket Challenge” charity fundraiser.

In a video posted online, the topless footballer throws a bucket of icy water over himself before jumping around screaming. Just days later Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also completed the challenge.

2) Balotelli wants a kiss from British Queen

With Italy and England competing for World Cup glory in the same group, along with Costa Rica and Uruguay, Balotelli offered the British Queen a deal. If Italy helped keep England in the tournament by beating Costa Rica, he said he would like a kiss from Her Majesty.

Thankfully the British royal had no need to respond, as both teams were booted out at the group stage.

3) Balotelli gets engaged on Brazil beach

As if competing against the world’s greatest footballers wasn’t keeping Balotelli busy enough, he chose the 2014 World Cup as the perfect time to propose to his girlfriend Fanny Neguesha. He popped the question on a Brazilian beach and got an instant “yes”.

4) Balotelli hopes Pope will say 'happy birthday'

Last summer, Balotelli joined the Italy squad in meeting Pope Francis, ahead of a friendly match against the pontiff’s home side Argentina.

Not shy in the face of powerful pensioners (see (2) above), the striker said he would tell the Pope “what I think”. He also hoped for birthday wishes from the pontiff.

5) Balotelli reveals another 'talent'

Aside from being a world class football player, Balotelli last year revealed another hidden talent. In a video posted online, he can be seen playing the national anthem on a grand piano.

Doubts were however raised over his musical talent, as Balotelli’s face and the pianist’s hands are not shown in the same shot.

SEE ALSO: Mario Balotelli – A national hero with a bad boy reputation

For all the headlines he has grabbed in Italy, Balotelli’s departure was greeted with enthusiasm by many Italians. A poll by Gazzetta dello Sport found that 83 percent of readers were happy to see him go. 

READ MORE: Italians say 'good riddance' to Balotelli exit

But their loss is England’s gain, judging by the throngs of delighted Liverpool fans ready to welcome him to the city.

A crowd of supporters shouting “We love you Mario, we do!” gathered outside the club’s training ground over the weekend, awarded with a brief appearance by Balotelli with one fan reaching out to stroke the footballer’s famous mohawk.

Some supporters have also come up with a chant for Balotelli, recounting his footballing skills and praising him for setting fireworks off in his bathroom. You can sing along here:

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FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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