Saturday December 16 2017
On This Day: Balotelli Debut

On this day 10 years ago, Mario Balotelli made his professional debut, replacing David Suazo for Inter away at Cagliari.

The Nerazzurri were four points ahead of Roma and five clear of Juventus going into the match, having won the Scudetto in the previous two years under Roberto Mancini.

The match itself was a routine win for the Beneamata, with Julio Cruz and Suazo scoring in the second half.

In stoppage time though, Mancini opted to give a debut to a promising 17-year-old striker in the form of Mario Balotelli.

Three days later the youngster was given a chance in the Coppa Italia tie with Reggina, and promptly scored a brace.

Balotelli would go on to feature for regularly for the Beneamata, helping them win the treble in the 2009-10 season.

Those titles were won under Jose Mourinho, but the pair had a slightly tempestuous relationship.

In the event they both moved on that summer, with Mourinho moving to Real Madrid and Balotelli reuniting with Roberto Mancini at Manchester City.

Super Mario scored 10 goals in 28 games that season, and was awarded the Man of the Match as Manchester City won the FA Cup.

In the following season, the Italian managed 17 goals in 32 games across all competitions, and set up a dramatic Sergio Aguero winner to help City take the Premier League title in the final second on the final day.

That remains the last major trophy Balotelli has won, despite two spells with Milan and a season with Liverpool.

However, since moving to Nice the striker appears to have rediscovered his best form, scoring 32 goals in his 48 games for Les Aiglons and helping them to qualify for the Champions League last season.

Many would say Balotelli has underperformed throughout his career, the 27-year-old actually boasts a respectable record of 127 goals in 321 games at club level.

While he hasn’t been capped by Italy since the Azzurri were eliminated from the 2014 World Cup, at international level too his 13 goals in 33 games is not to be sniffed at.

Balotelli may not have fulfilled the potential he showed earlier in his career, but 10 years after his debut the striker still has time to make his impact at both club level and for his country.

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