Mario Balotelli can shake off clown tag in Italy

Balotelli courted attention. Allowing friends to let off fireworks in his house and set fire to the toilet curtains in October 2011 was a gift to newspaper headline writers. Doubly so because this was before City's astounding 6-1 defeat of crosstown rival Manchester United, an epic match where Balotelli scored twice.

updated: January 31, 2013 16:33 IST
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"A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma:" Winston Churchill's famous description of Russia easily could be applied to Mario Balotelli.

With one important difference: Hidden inside the jumble of myths, stories and questions that Balotelli lugs around is a fabulous soccer player. Is, not was. It will be great for him and for soccer if he now gets to prove that again at AC Milan.

When headline-hungry tabloids were picking over his off-field life in England and toward the end of his stint with Manchester City, when he wasn't playing or contributing as much to the team, it became easy to forget just how thrilling Balotelli can be with a ball at his feet, a player who not only can make fans stomp in delight but also scratch their heads and laugh in disbelief.

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  • Football
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