Balotelli tries to clear his name over house blaze
Manchester: Mario Balotelli has defiantly insisted that he does not care about his troublesome reputation after inspiring Manchester City to a remarkable 6-1 victory against Manchester United — 36 hours after being rescued from his burning house.
The Italian forward produced arguably his best performance in a City shirt as United were destroyed at Old Trafford and, after scoring the opening goal, displayed a message on his vest saying ‘Why Always Me?'.
With Cheshire Fire Service called to extinguish a blaze at Balotelli's mansion in the early hours of Saturday morning after the 20-year-old's friends had attempted to release fireworks from the bathroom window, the sight of the player fronting a firework safety campaign yesterday merely added to the bizarre nature of the former Inter Milan striker's weekend.
Ironically, Balotelli's latest controversy came just days after he claimed that he had moved from his apartment in Manchester city centre to the countryside for a quiet life. But after being billed as ‘Rocket Man' and ‘Mad Mario' following the firework episode, Balotelli insists he had nothing to do with the fire at his house and is not concerned by how he is perceived by others.
"I don't care what people say about me," Balotelli said. "People are interested in my private life, but the thing at the weekend didn't come from me, it came from one of my friends and one of my brother's friends. Maybe I should be more careful about who I let in my house. But it wasn't about me, I didn't do anything.
"People got 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 the shouting coming from the bathroom.
"Luckily, nobody was injured, and my friend apologised to me 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."
The furore surrounding Balotelli's house fire preceded the derby against United, prompting his decision to have his vest emblazoned with the ‘Why Always Me?' slogan. "I did it [the T-shirt] for many reasons," Balotelli said. "But I'll leave it for other people to figure out what it means! I'm sure people can work it out.
"Chappy [Les Chapman] our kitman did it for me. But no [I won't do it again], because otherwise I'll get booked every week, so it was a one-off for United!"