At Manchester City, Mario Balotelli was regarded as one of the best young strikers in world football.
The Italian helped City win their first league title in 43 years during the 2011/12 season, scoring 13 league goals in the process.
But it was also at the Etihad that we saw the first signs of a controversial striker that we all know today.
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From his ‘Why always me?’ t-shirt he wore during the Manchester derby to setting his house alight with fireworks, Balotelli often hit the headlines for his antics, rather than his football ability in the Premier League.
But the incident that was the most high-profile came in a training session. Once again, there were fireworks involved, but this time, they were only between him and manager Roberto Mancini.
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Pictures emerged of Mancini grabbing Balotelli around the neck with the two clearly coming to blows. And now, Mancini has revealed exactly what Balotelli did during that session that angered him so much.
“I told the players before training not to make stupid mistakes on (Gael) Clichy, who was returning from injury, and then Mario made a tackle. I was angry!” he told L’Equipe.
“I took Mario by the neck, wanting to push him away, but as he is physically strong, I had trouble moving him.”
Since leaving City, Balotelli’s career have taken a nose dive. Although he impressed in his two seasons at AC Milan after leaving Manchester - scoring 30 goals in 54 appearances - he suffered a difficult season at Liverpool before failing to rekindle his form when he returned to Milan on loan last season.
However, it seems that Balotelli may have finally found a club where he can get his career back on track. In the summer, he signed for French club Nice where he has already scored five goals in three Ligue 1 matches, with his side sitting top of the league.
And, although they had a falling out whilst at City, Mancini still has words of praise for Balotelli.
“He’s fantastic ! As a player and boy. In good and bad. It is a special player for me, for all he has done on the grounds and elsewhere. I respect him a lot. I hope he understands that he has a chance to become a player of the highest level,” he said.
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