Italy vs Spain - Euro 2012 Final: Which Mario Balotelli Will Turn Up?

"Why Always Me?" a sweatshirt read on 23rd October 2011.

"Why Always Me?" a sweatshirt read on 23rd October 2011. Mario Balotelli had just scored the first of his two goals against Manchester United in that 1-6 rout at Old Trafford. But he has made headlines for all the wrong reasons throughout a career that has seen more ups and downs than an elevator attendant. Just days after signing for Manchester City from Inter Milan, Balotelli quite literally crashed onto the scene when he was involved in a prang in his Audi R8 on thw way to the cubs training ground. Since then the mishaps have kept coming. In October 2011, the Italian had another run-in with the emergency services after a firework was set off in the bathroom of his home, setting his house ablaze. Prior to this, he had already picked up two red cards - one of which came in the same afternoon that he scored his first ever goals for City against West Brom. He found himself in trouble again when in March 2011 it emerged he threw a dart at a City youth team player. Following the firework incident, he picked up his third red card in an encounter against Liverpool in November 2011. He has also been known to have a nasty streak to him. In January 2012 he was charged with violent conduct by the FA, and subsequently handed a four-match ban, after appearing to stamp on the head of Tottenham's Scott Parker during a Premier League match. He picked up the fourth red card of his career against Arsenal in the final weeks of last season's Premier League. After getting away with a dangerous knee high hack on Alex Song, he was finally dismissed for two bookable challenges on Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna. As he slowly trudged from the pitch, manager Roberto Mancini furiously gestured to him to get off the pitch. City would lose the match 1-0 after a last minute Arteta strike that appeared to put the sword to their title bid before the wheels came off Manchester United's charge. The Italian has been known to have positive traits though - with a handful of rumours surrounding his antics off the pitch. It has been alleged that he once went into the library at Manchester University and tried to pay off everyone's outstanding book fines. There is also a fable that he won £25,000 in a casino, and gave £1,000 to a tramp outside. He has had his positives on the pitch, too, including the aforementioned two goals in the annihilation of Manchester United. More recently however, he has inspired Italy to the final of Euro 2012 with two goals against Germany in the semi-final. With his country embroiled in another match fixing scandal, he has come good for his national team when it really matters. Now can he continue this positive run of making the headlines for exactly the right reasons by scoring the winning goal to win the tournament? Or will he be sent off tonight for headbutting Fabregas, kicking Torres, before spitting in Spain manager Vincente del Bosque's face on his way down the tunnel? That's anyone's guess. I can't wait to see what he does next though.
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Joseph is an accredited football journalist and has interviewed nearly all of the current 20 Barclay's Premier League managers. He is also a correspondent for Bleacher Report and has written for Caught Offside and Give Me Football.