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Mario Balotelli and His Italian-ness

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A conversation with my Dad got me thinking a bit more on the mercurial Mario Balotelli.

Clive Rose

This World Cup has done a lot to Mario front and center for a lot of the wrong reasons.  One could argue that Prandelli was foolish to place the hope of a Nation on aging maestro in Pirlo and a mad man like Mario.  One to old the other to immature, it was never going to work.  There needed to be more balance, more options, and most importantly more flexibility.  More importantly what this World Cup really did was press Mario into a corner.  A few days ago I posted his open letter but the conversation with my Pops stuck a thought in my head.

We talked about how passion and emotion is lacking in this Italian set up, Chiellini showed more emotion and tenacity in chasing the ref after he got bit then he did in 270 minutes.  Marchisio scored and did little to pound his chest or rile up his mates.  When Ghana or Colombia score the players appear to see stars, they pound the crest on their chest if to say this is my contribution to my Country.  In Italy this doesn't happen, that galvanized emotion of 2006 has disappeared along with any semblance of defensive tactics and proper football.  The point is every players seems to erupt in a pillar of emotion for his team and for his country, but not Mario.

Looking back on Mario's most influential goal, the one he scored against Germany in Euro 2012:

Other then being a great strike what do you notice?  When Mario scores the goal of his career he doesn't pound the crest, he actually takes off the shirt and reveals his true colors.   Mario Balotelli made it very clear in his personal note, "I’m 23 years old and I did not choose to be Italian." It is quite interesting when you really think about it, he has been taunted and jeered his whole life and it was a statement that didn't strike me until recent, maybe others noticed it, but I did not.  Right or wrong, a lot was put on his shoulders this World Cup, I mentioned early on, it could be a big one for him.  A chance to mature and own the World's stage, he isn't ready, in fact in a lot ways he isn't ready.  In the same sense he isn't ready to lead AC Milan.

At the end of they day I will continue to repeat what I have said over and over again.  I support Mario Balotelli and what he stands for in a Country who at times can be a bit set in their ways. What I don't support is the sideshow and the things that make you wonder what he really plays for in the first place.  I don't see that passion or love for the game with him, I see anger and complication.  Rightfully so he has reason to be upset, but at some point both he and the "fans" who jeer him will need to move on and grow up. Maybe someone like Wenger at Arsenal can instill some belief and maturity.  Maybe a team like Arsenal who needs only a striker like Mario is a better place for him to grow.  Arsenal have leaders, Arsenal have support.  Milan is not there yet, and it remains to be seen if they will be.