Tag Archive: Mario Balotelli

Immigration may seem a peculiar topic when talking about sport, but it is a subject that has been on my mind since Mo Farah became one of Britain’s most beloved sporting stars.

Icon | Mo Farah is idolised as a British sporting hero, putting him in the 'good immigration' bracket. (Image | NME)

Icon | Mo Farah is idolised as a British sporting hero, putting him in the ‘good immigration’ bracket. (Image | NME)

Few in this country will forget the sight of Farah winning gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the London 2012 Olympic Games: yet after the latter victory, Somali-born Farah had to deal with a journalist asking if he would have preferred to have run for Somalia, rather than Britain.

The 30-year-old gave the question short shrift, and has since developed into a sporting superstar, building on last year’s gold medals with two more at the World Athletics Championships last month.

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People love stories, particularly tales of greatness, and a major reason as to why the London 2012 Olympic Games held such thrall in Britain was the daily accounts of athletes finding the best of themselves.

Enn-chanting | Jessica Ennis storms to first place in the 200m, part of her hepthathlon glory at London 2012. (Image | Evening Standard)

Enn-chanting | Jessica Ennis storms to first place in the 200m, part of her heptathlon triumph at the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Image | Evening Standard)

We had yarns of the woman who grabbed her last chance of glory, Katherine Grainger; the chosen one adored by her public, Jessica Ennis; or the wounded king that ruthlessly crushed those who would usurp him, Usain Bolt. They were the legends of our time, not just athletes.

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Unstoppable | Spain’s performance in the Euro 2012 final, after an occasionally underwhelming campaign, has left many asking if they are the best team in the history of football. (Image | Getty)

After three weeks of 10-second countdowns, Pirlo-praising and Spanish superiority, the UEFA European Championships are over. A thoroughly enthralling group stage was followed by a below-average knockout stage that culminated with a sizzling Spanish performance in Kiev to complete an unprecedented trio of consecutive tournaments wins for the newly-crowned ‘greatest national team of all time’. In this article, I will be looking at how everyone performed.

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A familiar tale | England‘s penalty defeat cannot be allowed to mask the deficiencies in player development and technical ability. (Image | Yahoo)

Listening to BBC Radio 5 Live last night was rather masochistic on my part, as unlike the somewhat jingoistic commentators on television, callers in to the show seemed to accept England’s latent failings far more readily. The host, Alan Green, was typically honest about the nation’s footballing shortcomings, and once again called for root and branch reform. While many find the Ulsterman to be a deeply off-putting, often infuriating presence on the radio, he is right. We cannot carry on like this.

It has been said time and time again, but the FA operates not on a long-term basis, but the worst type of short-termism. Please the fans, reach the quarter finals, suffer a heroic exit on penalties and we can forget the dearth of young talent in the English game, the fact that we were entirely outplayed by a far from vintage Italy for 120 minutes, and our inability to keep the ball and dominate matches at the pinnacle of European football.

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Passed it | Andrea Pirlo was careless discarded by AC Milan, but he still drives both Italy and Juventus even late on in his distinguished career. (Image | Metro)

At the ripe old age of 33, you might be forgiven for thinking that Andrea Pirlo was no more than a fringe-player, a bastion of experience on the periphery of the Italian squad; however, the Azzuri’s three games at this year’s European Championships have proven quite the opposite. Pirlo is still the central figure for the Italian national squad.

Having moved from AC Milan to Juventus on a free transfer last summer, Pirlo enjoyed an outstanding season for his new club, starting 37 league games (a career best), scoring three goals, providing 13 assists and adding a touch of class to the Juventus midfield.

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They might be getting used to this feeling, but will Spain be standing atop another winners’ podium come July 1? (Image | http://www.9footballshirt.com)

After last night’s nervy performance from Portugal, we already know one of the four teams headed to the European Championships’ final four. After Germany presumably cruise past Greece tonight, the last two places will be set by the two most intriguing quarter final encounters.

Spain, reigning European and world champions, have failed to reach their own heady heights thus far at this tournament. They will face a France side looking to bounce back from an unlikely defeat at the hands of Sweden, while the last quarter final features the resurgent England and the ever unpredictable Italy.

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Putting it all on show | Nicklas Bendtner‘s “lucky pair of pants” must have lost their touch – earning him an £80,000 fine and a one-match suspension from UEFA

Once again the football world has been shocked, if not actually surprised, by the actions of those who ‘run’ the game. UEFA has slapped a £80,000 fine on Nicklas Bendtner. What is Bendtner’s crime you ask? Well, he has terrible taste in undergarments.

The man who bagged himself a brace against Portugal revealed the sponsorship during a goal celebration. The outrage is not so much about the amount of the fine, or the one game ban attached. The real shame of it is the comparison to recent racism fines dished out by UEFA. Bendtner’s fine was more than the £64,000 sum Croatia faced due to their fans racially abusing the ever adorable Mario Balotelli. It is not the first time UEFA has handed out pitiful fines for racial abuse by various groups of fans across Europe.

Arsenal striker Bendtner, who spent the past season on loan at Sunderland, said the boxers were “just a lucky pair of pants”.

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Germany international Lukas Podolski has agreed a deal to join Arsenal at the end of this season

Arsenal pulled off a major coup this morning, announcing that they have a deal in place with Bundeslige club 1.FC Köln to sign experienced German international Lukas Podolski.

The deal, reported by the BBC to be worth £10.9m, brings another major name to an Arsenal squad which has ditched a long-standing refusal to sign established players. And Podolski, the sharp-shooting forward who can play up front or out wide on his preferred left flank, brings another valuable asset to the Emirates as a man who attract some of a defence’s attention away from Robin van Persie.

The two should make an enthralling strike partnership next season. If, of course, van Persie is still at the club by the time Podolski makes his Premier League debut.

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An ode to Mario Balotelli

Balotelli has been a welcome addition to English football, both on and off the field

In the preening, pampered, prima donna world of Premier League footballers, Mario Balotelli sticks out like a sore thumb. He is the edgy, risqué, dangerous option. He provides the spark of genius that any team would long to possess on a football field, which makes him, amongst other things, a fascinating player to watch. However, he also harbours a fatal lack of intelligence, and an irrepressible knack for undertaking incomprehensible actions, in full view of the often vitriolic national media. This makes him nothing short of an icon of top flight football in this country. Balotelli is a celebrity striker, in more of the Eric Cantona than the Arthur Scargill sense. How can a man who, if not actively committed this nonsensical act, then at the very least was present as others set off fireworks from his bathroom window and “accidentally” caused what was described as a “substantial” fire in his rented Manchester house.

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