Mario Balotelli’s best performance? Italian’s masterclass v Germany at Euro 2012

  • Rob Swan
It's exactly 10 years since Mario Balotelli produced the best performance of his career aged 21

Ten years have now passed since Mario Balotelli produced arguably the finest performance of his topsy-turvy career for Italy against Germany at Euro 2012.

The striker, aged just 21 at the time, netted a stunning first-half brace to leave the Azzurri with one foot in the Euro 2012 final.

Balotelli’s first goal came in the 20th minute: a thumping header past Manuel Neuer from Antonio Cassano’s cross.

But it’s his sensational second goal that’s still fresh in the memory for many football fans around the world.

Riccardo Montolivo picked out Balotelli, whose run caught out Germany defender Philipp Lahm.

Super Mario subsequently found himself in space and unleashed an unstoppable strike from the edge of the box which left Neuer with zero chance of saving.

balotelli germany goal
WARSAW, POLAND – JUNE 28: Mario Balotelli of Italy battles with Philipp Lahm of Germany as he scores his team’s second goal past Manuel Neuer of Germany during the UEFA EURO 2012 semi final match between Germany and Italy at the National Stadium on June 28, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

It was a dream goal for Balotelli, who then produced one of the most iconic celebrations of recent times.

After whipping off his shirt, the man with the blonde mohawk stood like a statue while flexing his muscles with the most serious look on his face before his teammates celebrated with him.

Watch the classic footage here:

Ten years ago! Madness. Still feels like yesterday, doesn’t it?

Balotelli Germany celebration
WARSAW, POLAND – JUNE 28: Mario Balotelli (R) of Italy celebrates with team-mate Claudio Marchisio after scoring his team’s second goal as Philipp Lahm of Germany shows his dejection during the UEFA EURO 2012 semi final match between Germany and Italy at the National Stadium on June 28, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Mesut Ozil pulled a goal back for Germany from the penalty spot in stoppage-time but Italy held on to set up a mouth-watering final against world champions Spain.

Balotelli’s beautiful moment with mum, Silvia

TV cameras caught a beautiful moment after the final whistle involving Balotelli and his adoptive mum, Silvia.

Per The Mirror, Balotelli told reporters: “What image I will take this game? Certainly after the game when I went to my mom and I said, ‘These goals are for you.’

“I waited for this moment for so long, especially since Mom came up to here and I wanted to make her happy.

“Tonight was the most beautiful of my life, but I hope that this Sunday is even better. Now we just need to rest assured and beat the Spanish.

“With Spain we are the two best teams in the tournament. Can we win? I’ll tell you on Sunday.”

What happened in the Euro 2012 final?

Unfortunately for Balotelli, he was unable to inspire Italy to glory against a phenomenal Spain side in the Euro 2012 final.

Xavi, Andres iniesta and co. produced a tiki-taka masterclass in Kyiv and lifted the Henri Delaunay trophy thanks to goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata.

Spain euro 2012 trophy
KIEV, UKRAINE – JULY 01: Iker Casillas (C) of Spain lifts the trophy as he celebrates with team-mates following victory in the UEFA EURO 2012 final match between Spain and Italy at the Olympic Stadium on July 1, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

But Balotelli had still managed to cement his status as one of the world’s most exciting young footballers over the course of the tournament.

And it’s been quite the ride for the 31-year-old, who currently plies his trade with Turkish side Adana Demirspor, since then.

balotelli
NAPLES, ITALY – OCTOBER 14: Mario Balotelli of Italy smiles during a training session on October 14, 2013 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

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