Wherever Mario Balotelli goes, the headlines often follow not too far behind. That’s been the case his entire career, but while it was once for his goals, more often than not it’s for the theatrics between them.
And we’re absolutely fine with that.
Balotelli had the potential to be a truly glorious striker, and while it’s a shame on one hand to see him not fulfil that potential, we wouldn’t change anything for the world.
In an era of media training, sportswashing and football personalities being as beige as your family carpet circa 2004, the Italian has never wavered from being his true authentic self.
His ‘true self’ being a synonym for absolute nutter. Completely unhinged. Unchanged by any manager, relaxed or disciplinarian.
The eccentric Italian also perfectly epitomises the textbook Turkish Super Lig striker, flying the flag for those once destined for greatness and remembered by a spell in the Premier League, before falling away from the top of the mountain and embarking on a journeyman career.
Having played in France and Italy in his later years, struggling to find his feet, Balotelli thrived in Turkey with Adana Demirspor in 2021-22, before leaving at the end of the season to play in Switzerland with Sion.
Not got a clue? No, us neither.
But, as the saying goes – the saying we’ve just invented – you can take an ex-Barclays baller out of the Turkish Super Lig, but you can’t take the Turkish Super Lig out of the ex-Barclays baller.
Balotelli made an emphatic return to the promised land – and possibly our favourite football league here at Planet Football – this summer, fulfilling the prophecy and completing a dreamy return to Adana Demirspor.
In doing so, he found himself reunited with former Milan teammate M’Baye Niang – a duo many had once tipped for stardom.
While the pair didn’t manage to pull up trees for one of football’s biggest clubs, they’re now doing the next best thing in balling out together in the most chaotic, unserious league of all.
Following the Italian’s storied return, though, the penalty taker order had clearly changed. So when Adana were awarded one against Konyaspor, a decision had to be made.
Balotelli and Niang came to that decision in quite possibly the greatest way possible.
Can't decide who gets to take the penalty?
No worries – just play rock paper scissors like Mario Balotelli and Mbaye Niang. Sensational content.pic.twitter.com/3z5gGP0ZMR
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) October 29, 2023
After seeing this, we are firmly of the belief that there are three things on the planet that could achieve world peace.
Mario Balotelli, the Turkish Super Lig and a good ol’ fashioned game of rock, paper, scissors.
Best part is, after Niang wins the game, he steps up and tucks away the penalty, which Balotelli is genuinely absolutely delighted about. Unbothered kings.
While we have an immense soft spot for overly dramatic spats over who takes a free-kick or a penalty, it was hilarious and refreshing in equal measures to see two dudes just being bros and being immensely unserious in an official league fixture.
When you employ Balotelli, though, that’s what you get. Adana should just be happy that he’s present and chipping in where he can, and not setting off fireworks in his presumably flawless Turkish villa, or out throwing darts at people for a laugh.
There was probably a time where Balotelli would’ve reacted to losing that game with a dart or a box of fireworks, but not anymore. Our humble hero has reached a new level of zen.
One simply cannot argue the game’s outcome, nor can they argue Balotelli’s legacy.
The greatest version of democracy we have as a human lifeform and the most unserious football division on earth.
Long may it continue.
By Mitch Wilks