Thirteenth? Excuse me?
I should introduce myself. My name is Mario Balotelli. You apparently have not heard of me, since you have listed me only as an afterthought in your Goal.com 50.
Perhaps, when you were compiling this list of the world’s best footballers, you were concentrating very hard on an absorbing game of beach volleyball on the television. Perhaps you were distracted by a passing fly. Whatever you were doing, you were not watching football.
I play for Manchester City. Did you know that? My club won the Premier League last season. This is a league containing the talented likes of Mario Balotelli, so to win it is quite some achievement, and I did so despite being in the same team as notorious hothead Mario Balotelli. That, I am told, requires mental strength.
Unless you were in some kind of week-long drunken stupor, you should recall the events of October 23, 2011. As my influence spurred City on to a 6-1 uber-thrashing of insignificant fleas Manchester United, my second goal, even more supreme than the first, provided you with the greatest photo in football history as I stood titanically still and displayed my message: “Why always me?”
Those three words have defined the entire year of football. My brother, Enoch, who is wise for his age, told me after the match that I was “the quintessential modern warrior-poet”. I am not sure where he gets these words from (I fear that he may be reading), but he is right. I am not arrogant, it is the truth.
You see, the question of “why always me?” was a rhetorical one. The answer, obviously, is “me”. Nobody can stop talking about me and what I do on the pitch. Or what I do off the pitch. Or what I don’t do off the pitch.
The stories went that I paid for everyone’s petrol at a station, that I dressed up as Santa Claus at Christmas and handed out money, that I visited a Manchester university library and covered all the students’ late fees, and more. I did none of these things, but you believed that I did. That tells you all that you need to know about the transcendental power of Balotelli.
As I write this letter, I am interrupted by the phone ringing. It’s Noel Gallagher again. I let it go to voicemail. “Can we go quad-biking together, Mario? Please? I’ll carry your helmet and everything!” the ex-Oasis man whines for the 56th time this week. I ignore him. Does Mesut Ozil get calls from Noel Gallagher to go quad-biking? Does Xavi? No.
I am the ‘now’ man off the pitch. This is clear. But I am also utterly superior on it.
My goals thrilled a billion fans; my celebrations inspired a million memes
Witness January 22, 2012. I come on as a substitute against Tottenham in a game that my team must win. I stamp on the head of Spurs captain Scott Parker, a man adored in this country because he is from the 1950s (approximately the year 40 BB on the Super Mario calendar). It is deliberate. But nothing happens. I get away with it through sheer force of personality. Nothing stops Balotelli.
Then, in the final seconds, I am fouled, get a penalty and bury it with the calmest finish that you will ever see. Pressure is nothing; it is a paper cup within my iron fist. I am only dimly aware of the concept of pressure in the first place because it has been explained to me by lesser players. They are weak.
Fast-forward to May 13. My team are playing QPR. If we win, we win the Premier League. But we are losing. I did not start the game because that would be too easy. But when we fall behind, I come on, and I make the difference.
Without my arrival at precisely the right moment, lying prone in the penalty area to flick the ball out to Sergio Aguero, the Premier League would not have been won. All the credit is mine.
Total English glory was already sealed, so I moved on to Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012. Nobody expected me or my country to do very well. That was foolish.
First I scored against Ireland. That was easy enough. I’m not sure why Leonardo Bonucci covered my mouth as I celebrated – if he’d allowed me to belch Jay-Z’s ‘Big Pimpin” as I’d intended, you’d have put me top of your list there and then.
Then I battered the Germans in the semi-final. That’s not supposed to be possible. Germany win semi-finals, that’s just how it worked – but that was before Balotelli. My two goals thrilled a billion fans; my celebrations inspired a million memes.
To cap it all off, when it came to the final, I saw poor Fernando Torres and I realised that he needed it more than me. I allowed Spain to win. I am a footballing philanthropist.
There is no discipline in which I have not excelled in the past 12 months. That there are supposedly 12 players who define yet transcend this sport more than I is nothing short of ridiculous.
I am Mario Balotelli. I am football. Football is me. Always me. And you, Goal.com, are wrong.
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