The car crash, the fireworks, the celebrations, the darts, the smoking, the fall outs… There are no end to the controversies and legends that have followed Mario Balotelli throughout his career.
The latest story about the Italian’s eccentricities comes from ex-Liverpool teammate Rickie Lambert, who claims that Balotelli would purposefully score own goals in training when he was in a bad mood.
Lambert joined his boyhood club in 2014, the same summer as Balotelli, having scored 117 goals in 235 appearances for Southampton. He appeared 36 times for Brendan Rodgers’ side, but was rarely a starter.
Meanwhile, Balotelli made 28 appearances for the Reds in 2014/15, scoring just four goals, before he was shipped out on loan the following season.
The signing was viewed as a blunder by Liverpool who wanted the unpredictable Balotelli to replace Luis Suarez.
As Lambert recalls, the Italy international was something of a nightmare in training.
Lambert revealed (via Eurosport): “He [Balotelli] was a good lad, childish but infectious. But as soon as he stepped on the training pitch he became a different person.
“My head went with him in training and I had to go in and say to Brendan ‘don’t put me on his team again’. I think Stevie [Gerrard] had said the same.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest. At first, he gave everything when he played. But in training, I could tell he wasn’t giving his all. His head would just go. If it wasn’t going his way, he would just ruin the session basically.
“He’d kick the ball away, score an own goal. I was speaking to Joe Hart and the lads at England and they were like ‘ he was like that at City’. I’d ask them ‘how did he get away with it?’ They just shook their heads.”
After his spell in the Premier League with Liverpool, the now 30-year old spent time with Milan, Nice, Marseille, Brescia and now features for Serie B side Monza, who are owned by ex-Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.