Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli was born August 12, 1990.

Born to Ghanian immigrants in Sicily, Balotelli was transferred into an Italian foster family in 1993, and gained an immediate interest in the nation's pastime.

At 15, Balotelli made his professional debut for the Lumezzane club playing in the small Serie C1 league, but he broke out when joining Inter Milan of the more competitive Serie A league in 2007. In 59 appearances with the club, the 6-2 striker scored 20 goals, and as an 18-year-old he became the youngest player in history to score in a UEFA Champions League game in 2008.

However, Balotelli created a reputation for having disciplinary problems with head coach Jose Mourinho, and he was traded to Manchester City of the Premier League in 2010. Although his off-field issues continued -- a 2011 piece by England's "The Telegraph" documented some of his controversies such as sneaking into a women's prison for fun and being fined for throwing darts at a youth player as a prank -- Balotelli flourished on the field. He scored 20 goals in 54 appearances for the team, winning the 2010 Golden Boy award as the top European player under the age of 21.

At the end of 2012, Balotelli was signed by Milan, returning to Italy's Serie A league as a rival of his former team. Although Balotelli was impressive in a brief stint with Milan, scoring 26 goals in 43 games, he was transferred back to the Premier League in 2014 to play for Liverpool, where he has remained since.

In addition, Balotelli has been successful for the Italian national team. Although he did not gain Italian citizenship until 2008, he has scored 13 goals in 33 appearances with the senior team. Most notably, he scored this game-winner in the team's 2014 World Cup victory over England (although the team was later eliminated in pool play during the infamous Luis Suarez bite game against Uruguay):

After the early World Cup exit, the Italian team is ranked 16th in the FIFA World Rankings, with Balotelli looking to be the team’s offensive cornerstone for the near future. In addition, Balotelli will return in the 2015-16 season for Liverpool, which finished in sixth place in the Premier League a year ago.

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