Mario Balotelli Barwuah born Mario Barwuah (12 August 1990) is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a striker for Ligue 1 club Nice and the Italy national team. Mario Balotelli was born in Palermo, Sicily as the son of Ghanaian immigrants. The family moved to Bagnolo Mella in the province of Brescia, Lombardy, when he was two.
In 1993, when he was three, Balotelli was placed in foster care to the Balotelli family when his own family was unable to pay for his health care needs. His foster parents are Silvia, the Jewish daughter of Holocaust survivors, and Francesco Balotelli. They lived in the town of Concesio, Brescia, in northern Italy. At first, he stayed at the Balotellis during the weekdays, and returned to his biological parents on weekends. He later was permanently fostered by the Balotellis full-time, and adopted their surname. In June 2012, he dedicated his goals that put Italy in the final of the Euro 2012 football championships to his foster mother Silvia. Balotelli had to wait until his 18th birthday to request Italian citizenship, as his foster family had not adopted him. He officially gained citizenship in Concesio on 13 August 2008. After the ceremony he released the following statement:
I am Italian, I feel Italian, I will forever play with the Italian national team.
Mario has three biological siblings: Abigail, Enoch, and Angel Barwuah. Enoch Barwuah, two years younger than Balotelli, is also a professional footballer.
He started his professional football career at Lumezzane and played for the first team twice before having an unsuccessful trial at Barcelona, and subsequently joining Internazionale in 2007. Inter manager Roberto Mancini brought Balotelli into the first team, but when Mancini left, Balotelli’s disciplinary record fell away. He had a strained relationship with new manager José Mourinho and was suspended from Inter’s first team in January 2009 after a number of disciplinary problems.
With doubts over his career at Inter, former coach Roberto Mancini had since moved to Manchester City and decided to give Balotelli a fresh chance at a new club. He joined Manchester City in August 2010, where his performances and off-field activities continued to be enigmatic and unpredictable. Balotelli eventually fell out of favour with Mancini after a “training ground bust up” between the two in January 2013. His departure from City and return to Italy with A.C. Milan followed several weeks later. After 18 months at Milan, he returned to the Premier League with Liverpool. An unsuccessful season with the Merseyside club led to his return to Milan on loan and subsequent departure on a free transfer to Nice.
Balotelli earned his first cap for Italy in a friendly match against the Ivory Coast on 10 August 2010. He amassed over 30 caps and represented his country at UEFA Euro 2012, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup; he helped the national side reach the final of Euro 2012, and also won a bronze medal at the Confederations Cup. Along with Antonio Cassano, he is Italy’s top-scorer in the UEFA European Championships, with 3 goals.He is also Italy’s top scorer in the FIFA Confederations Cup, alongside Giuseppe Rossi and Daniele De Rossi, with two goals.