Mario Balotelli’s infamous trick shot that saw him subbed off for Man City in 2011

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Mario Balotelli is one of a kind.

While the enigmatic Italian striker might never have reached Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s level like he thought he would, he’s nevertheless provided plenty of entertainment throughout his career.

Besides, you only have to look at the fact that he went viral earlier this year for scoring a rabona on the back of about ten million step-overs in a game where he scored five goals to get a measure of the man.

Balotelli’s spell at Man City

And fans of the English game never saw Balotelli’s antics more regularly than during his spell at Manchester City, which was still around the time where he looked set to become a world-class striker.

Sadly, in the end, Balotelli’s time at the Etihad Stadium was best remembered for ‘Why always me?’ t-shirts and fireworks in his bathroom, but he did at least manage to endear himself to Premier League fans.

Whether or not he managed to endear himself so much to Roberto Mancini, however, is another question entirely with player and coach not always seeing eye to eye during their three-year collaboration.

After all, the infamous photo of Balotelli and Mancini scuffling in City training was clearly just the tip of the iceberg based on an incident from 2011 pre-season that continues to tickle us more than 10 years on.

Balotelli’s moment of madness in 2011

With pre-season friendslies just a few weeks away, we could not help reminiscing on one of Balotelli’s funniest ever moments when City warmed up for their title-winning campaign with a clash against LA Galaxy.

All pretty normal so far, but what if we were to tell you that Mancini hooked off Balotelli during the game because he attempted to score a one-on-one with a skill move… ringing any bells?

Yes, that’s right, the friendly match at the Dignity Health Sports Park was hilariously overshadowed by Balotelli seemingly trying to score with a roulette in what was clearly interpreted as a show of disrespect.

Dzeko calls out Balotelli.
Football – LA Galaxy v Manchester City – World Football Challenge – Pre Season Friendly – The Home Depot Center, Carson, Los Angeles, United States of America – 11/12 – 24/7/11 Edin Dzeko (R) – Manchester City questions Mario Balotelli after he backheels an effort at goal Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Alex Gallardo EDITORIAL USE ONLY

An infamous back-heeled shot

As soon as Balotelli pirouetted over the ball, which proceeded to bobble wide of the post, Edin Dzeko took issue with his teammate and a tense atmosphere descended upon the stadium.

And with the Galaxy fans duly peppering Balotelli with boos and jeers, Mancini’s decision to pull him off for James Milner just minutes later was greeted with almost unanimous agreement.

Just writing out exactly what happened feels surreal to this day, so just imagine what it’s like going over the footage, which you can check out for yourself down below to see what you make of Balotelli’s moment of madness:

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It could not have been anyone else, could it?

According to the Independent, Mancini explained his decision to hook off Balotelli by saying: “Football should always be serious and if you have a chance to score, you should score.”

Balotelli’s excuse for the stunt

However, Balotelli himself seemed to think that he was actually offside and that the decision to whip out a roulette was merely a bit of post-whistle playing around as opposed to taking the mickey out of his opponents.

At least, that’s according to Micah Richards, who told Goal in 2020: “I asked Mario about it and he said: ‘I’m telling you now. I heard a whistle ‘.

“Even if he did hear a whistle or not, we were like: ‘Just score anyway’. But he was adamant that he heard a whistle so he stopped.

Balotelli playing for Man City.
Football – LA Galaxy v Manchester City World Football Challenge – Pre Season Friendly – The Home Depot Center, Carson, Los Angeles, United States of America – 24/7/11 Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli (45) battles LA Galaxy’s Michael Stephens (L) for the ball Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Alex Gallardo Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY

“But you never know with Mario because it fitted in with the rest of his antics. But I prefer the story that he was trying to take the mickey, it’s a better story. “

We’ll let you decide whether or not you buy Balotelli’s story, but showboating or mistake, we’re just happy that it exists as one of the many thousands of chapters in the catalog of remarkable ‘Super Mario’ stories.

Let’s face it, football just wouldn’t be as exciting or entertaining without characters like him. Never change, Mario, never change.

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