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Mario Balotelli's double life...


Mario is no longer a BarwuahThe bitter family feud that haunts the £29m Manchester City target

Inside Thomas and Rose Barwuah’s third-floor council flat above a row of shops in Bagnolo Mella, on the outskirts of Brescia in northern Italy, photographs of their family adorn the walls.

There are pictures of their four children — Abigail, 22, Mario, 19, Enoch, 17, and Angel, 11. But it is Mario who takes centre stage. There are photos of him as a baby and then a toddler growing up in the Sicilian city of Palermo, kicking a football, in a suit at a family party and play-fighting with brother Enoch as Rose looks on.

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But Mario is no longer a Barwuah. He has taken the surname of his adopted family, Balotelli. The toddler has grown up into an Inter Milan striker and Champions League winner valued at around £29million.

The player they call ‘Super Mario’ claims his natural parents abandoned him when he was two years old. The grainy images in the Barwuahs’ humble flat in Bagnolo Mella, a sleepy town of terracotta buildings, haphazard cobbled streets and a population of just 13,000, are therefore the only connection they have with their eldest son.

Mr Barwuah picks up a picture of a three-year-old Mario holding a football. It was taken at a friend’s home in Vicenza, a 90-minute drive from Bagnolo Mella.

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‘Mario had spent hours playing football in the rain,’ said Mr Barwuah. ‘When the boys came in they were soaked but they were laughing and joking despite being wet. My friend said to Mario, “You really are Super Mario”. It’s the name we gave him.’

Mr Barwuah — a ‘poor metal worker’, as he puts it — is a proud man. But the strain on his face is obvious when he says Balotelli has only invited him to one Inter match in four years, the 2-1 Champions League win over Chelsea in February. Even then it was a second-hand invitation and a match in which Balotelli only played the last 32 minutes.

‘He turned up one day with four tickets and he gave them to his brother, Enoch,’ said Mr Barwuah. ‘I asked if I could come and watch and he said that Enoch had the tickets and he could do what he wanted with them.

‘He has never remembered us. Not a birthday or Christmas, nothing. He is not the same boy I knew when he was younger — always laughing and smiling. He was trouble but in a good way.’

Trouble, it seems, has followed Mario Balotelli throughout his turbulent 19-year life.



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