Balotelli - an Italian of Ghanaian descent - began his professional career at the age of 15 in a brief stint for Lumezanne in 2005. In 2006 he was signed by Internazionale, and made his Serie A debut in 2007 wearing the number 45. As a pacey and young striker, Balotelli rose to prominence with his goal scoring in the Coppa Italia - scoring twice against Reggina and then twice away at Juventus. He scored 7 times in his maiden season with Inter, who went on to win the Serie A under Roberto Mancini. Balotelli signed for Italian giants AC Milan in January 2013.
2008 saw Jose Mourinho take charge at Inter Milan, with Balotelli becoming a controversial player at the club with disciplinary and off-the-field problems plaguing his young career. This prevented him establishing himself as a first-team player under Mourinho; however he continued to score, with 21 goals in his next two years in Italy, and was a UEFA Champions League winner in 2010 - despite not playing in the final.
Mario decided to move to England for the 2010-2011 season to rejoin former manager Mancini at Manchester City, retaining his number 45. He scored 10 times in 28 appearances in his first season in England, however injuries and disciplinary problems kept him out of the team frequently. Despite this, he turned out a Man of the Match performance in the 1-0 FA Cup final win against Stoke.
He made his debut for the Italian national side in a warm up game against Côte d'Ivoire prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup; however he wasn't part of the Italy team that crashed out in the group stages in South Africa. He scored his first international goal against Poland in 2011.