The minute one thinks of Mario Balotelli, one gets into an impossible muddle. Thrown darts. Fireworks in the bathroom. Scoring goals against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Why Always Me. Racial politics in football. Race identity in Italy. Racist chants. Racist cartoons. Unbridled idol worship. Manchester City fans singing his name on the train. Knee-jerk disdain. Egotism. Ill-discipline. Stunning goals. Giuseppe Meazza. Trips to a public school washroom. Cash handed out to the homeless. Denying it all in an interview with Noel Gallagher. And now, one of the most indelible images from these Euros, as highlighted by Devang Desai last night: a boy in love with his mother.
As one astute Tweeter noted yesterday:
He’s both completely within and without Italian football. He’s loved, he’s hated. And now following the “best night of his life” he’s returned to Italy, a country where he was once on the regular receiving end of racist chants, as a national hero. And that’s all I have to say on this matter.
Not much else going in news circles though. Del Bosque has no regrets over his strategy against Italy in the group. And Beckham was apparently snubbed by Team GB coach Stuart Pearce in favour of Ryan Giggs.
And that, give or take, is the story so far…