Mario Balotelli‘s career in English football ended with a bit of a whimper.
The often controversial Italian striker was fairly good in fits and bursts at Manchester City. He scored a brace against Manchester United at Old Trafford and provided the assist for Sergio Aguero’s famous Premier League title-winning goal.
So when Balotelli returned to England with Liverpool in the summer of 2014 after a spell at AC Milan, there was cautious optimism.
The fiery forward had impressed at that year’s World Cup and had the potential to fill the void left by Luis Suarez to some degree.
Sadly for Liverpool, the transfer quickly turned into something resembling a nightmare.
In his one full season on Merseyside, Balotelli managed just four goals in 28 appearances across all competitions.
The Italian’s performances were woeful for the most part and it was no shock to anyone that he was loaned back to Milan for the 2015/16 campaign.
And it turns out Balotelli’s time at Liverpool can pretty much be summed up by a statement he made in his first training session.
According to Steven Gerrard, the Adana Demirspor forward openly told manager Brendan Rodgers that he doesn’t mark on corners.
No, this isn’t a wind-up…
Gerrard’s story about Balotelli’s first Liverpool training session
Gerrard wrote in his explosive autobiography: “I reminded myself that I had always allowed every new player to come into the club with a clean slate. Balotelli’s reputation tested that resolve but I tried my best to be open-minded. He made an immediate impression when we were doing work on our defensive set pieces and Balotelli said to Brendan: ‘I don’t mark on corners. I can’t.’
“I nearly fell into the goalpost. I was thinking, ‘What are you? Six foot three, and one of the strongest men I’ve ever seen on a football pitch? And you can’t mark on a corner?’
“Brendan was very firm. He said to Balotelli: ‘Well, you can now – and if you can’t then you’re going to learn.’
“That was the first conflict between Brendan and Balotelli, on day one, but the manager stood up to Mario really well. From that point, Balotelli started marking on corners.”
Imagine rocking up to a training session at one of the biggest clubs in world football and telling the manager you refuse to perform such a basic task.
What makes it worse is the fact that Balotelli’s towering physique means he is an ideal candidate for defensive duties from corner kicks.
Unfortunately, most of Balotelli’s enormous potential will remain unfulfilled…