Jose Mourinho's legendary story about Mario Balotelli's red card at Inter Milan

Mourinho Balotelli Inter Milan

Mario Balotelli is one of the most enigmatic footballers of his generation. 

From a young age, the Italian was tipped to blossom into one of the most deadly strikers in European football, but it soon became apparent that he would be remembered for his unique and captivating persona rather than his football ability. 

Wherever Balotelli has gone in the game, he has been a player defined by stories of endearing misdemeanours, unadulterated mischief and steadfast aversion to figures of authority. 

From setting off fireworks inside his own house to clearing the library debts at the University of Manchester, countless tales about Balotelli have cropped up throughout his career.

Some are true and some are most definitely false, yet they all seem believable due to what we know and understand about the character at the heart of every story. 

The cult of Mario is strong. 

Balotelli broke onto the scene as a teenager at Inter Milan, and worked alongside Jose Mourinho during his iconic stint as manager of the Nerazzurri. 

The revered Portuguese manager had the responsibility of managing one of the most unpredictable personalities in the history of European football and, based on an interview he had with CNN back in 2014, it seems he enjoyed the experience. 

During the interview, the presenter Pedro Pinto asked the then Real Madrid manager about the most problematic players he's had to deal with. 

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Naturally, the conversation very swiftly turned towards Balotelli.

Speaking with genuine enthusiasm throughout, Mourinho recalled a hilarious tale about the Italian forward to illustrate just how difficult he was to manage.  

"Mario was good fun. I could write a book of 200 pages of my two years in Inter with Mario. But the book would not be a drama, it would be a comedy.

"I remember one in Kazan. We went to Kazan in the Champions League. In that match all my strikers were injured. No Milito, no Eto'o, I was really in trouble and Mario was the only one.

"Mario gets a yellow card in minute 42, 43. So when I go to the dressing room at half-time, I spend 14 minutes of the 15 speaking only for Mario.

"Mario I cannot change you. I cannot make a change. I don't have a striker on the bench. Don't touch anybody. Play only with the ball. When we lose the ball, no reaction. If somebody provokes you, no reaction. If the referee makes a mistake, no reaction. Mario, please.

"Minute 46, red card!"

As Mourinho is telling the story, you just know there's only going to be one outcome. 

However, though Balotelli, who was 19 years old at the time, was sent off for a second bookable offence, his dismissal arrived in the 60th minute rather than the 46th. 

We can only assume that Mourinho's memory had eluded him by then or he changed the details for comedic effect. 

Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story, Jose. 

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