Remembering when a firework set Mario Balotelli’s house on fire

Remembering when a firework set Mario Balotelli’s house on fire

Footballers are constantly looking for a spark when they play – but who can forget the time Mario Balotelli found one off the park to the detriment of his own home?

Back in 1605, Guy Fawkes’ attempt to blow up the House of Lords and kill King James I in the process was foiled when he was arrested as he guarded explosives at Westminster.

People around London celebrated by lighting bonfires and an annual public day marking the occasion was soon introduced, with the date still observed now more than four centuries on.

Six years ago, in the lead up to November 5, Balotelli’s house caught on fire when fireworks were set off in the bathroom.

Playing for Manchester City, the fact it happened on the eve of their biggest win at Manchester United in 56 years – with the Italian scoring twice – only added to a quite bizarre tale.

Indeed, after scoring his first goal in a 6-1 victory at Old Trafford, Balotelli revealed his infamous, perfectly-captioned t-shirt with the slogan “Why always me?” Nothing could have been more apt.

Prior to the fireworks incident, the forward had already proven to be as much of a handful for people on his own teams as he was for opponents when he bore down on goal.

At Inter Milan, he was accused by manager Jose Mourinho of not trying hard enough in training and had a number of disciplinary problems, with several senior players also criticising him.

After moving to City, Balotelli was punished for throwing darts at a youth player, had a number of fights with team-mates and was sent off four times in 17 months.

He was also substituted in a pre-season game at LA Galaxy for trying to backheel a relatively straightforward chance into the net from a few yards out and missing instead.

Then there were those fireworks, which left the striker having to escape at 1am after they were let off during a party at the Cheshire house he rented.

Balotelli maintained afterwards it was a friend rather than him who was responsible for the resulting fire which spread throughout the first floor when bathroom towels caught alight.

He told City’s website: “The newspapers for the story wrong about me and the fire at my house. I didn’t set any fireworks off, it was a friend of mine.

“I didn’t know anything about it until I heard shouting coming from the bathroom. Luckily, nobody was injured and my friend apologised for the damage to my house.

“It was a really stupid thing for him to do. Someone could have been really hurt and I was really, really angry with him about it.”

Regardless of who was to blame, firefighters needed breathing apparatus as they spent half an hour putting out the blaze, for which Balotelli was billed £400,000 by his landlord to cover repairs.

Somewhat comically, Balotelli was photographed backing a fireworks safety campaign in Manchester a few days after the incident.

“They can be very dangerous if they are not used in the right way,” he added. “People should follow the firework code.”

Balotelli’s words rang true when a number of newspapers published pictures of the damage three years after the fire.

While the bathroom was the only room directly affected by fire, there was also substantial smoke and soot damage shown in a bedroom and the upstairs hallway.

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Since leaving City in January 2013, Balotelli’s career has continued to fluctuate with highs and lows along the way.

His goals return at AC Milan was impressive as he scored 26 times in 37 Serie A starts but he failed to make the same impact at Liverpool, scoring just one Premier League goal.

With only four in all competitions, Balotelli was sent back to Milan on loan but he didn’t do much better there and joined Nice on a free transfer in the summer of 2016.

On the Cote d’Azur, he has found his scoring touch again. Granted, his 17 goals last season also came with three red cards, but he does at least to be heading in the right direction once more.

He has also found time to re-emphasise the dangers of fireworks in more recent times, posting an Instagram video at the end of 2015 showing him using one correctly.

What’s most predictable about Balotelli, now 27, is his unpredictability and whatever he does next, it’s likely to be with a bang – or maybe not.


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