Aggressive, petulant, stubborn, uncouth; it's quite fair to say that Mario Balotelli doesn't enjoy the best relationship with the British media. Caricatured as an uncontrollable young man lacking the requisite skills of respect and decency, Balotelli is treated like a caged animal as journalists, opponents and fans prod him with sticks before running for cover, hoping they've provoked a reaction.
The self-righteous shake their heads at his every action, labelling him as the antithesis of all that is wrong with The Modern Game. But this blog thinks it's time that someone stood up for Super Mario, and saluted his actions rather than chastising them.
Football - despite what Bill Shankly might tell you - is just game. Part of the entertainment industry and designed to interest those who pay for a ticket to a game. It is nothing more. But too often this beautiful simplicity is lost in a wave of angst and violence amongst those who forget that essentially, it's 22 men and a pig's bladder.
With the vast majority of footballers trained in the art of providing the media with tiresome cliches, surely any player who divides opinion with their behaviour and gives us something to talk about is worthy of praise? After all, isn't one of any footballers primary objectives to simply entertain?
Balotelli perplexes and infuriates in equal measure. The excuses offered up for his behaviour range from his difficult childhood - being abandoned by his birth mother as a newborn - to the abhorrant rascist abuse he suffered so regualrly whilst playing in Italy. While these factors undoubtedly contributed to his cold and often hostile persona, there's no need to over-analyse or attempt to explain the Italian: he's an entertainer, like Prince or Robert De Niro.
We all watch the game for its tapestry of different characters with their varying levels of ability, and it's this personalisation that makes football what it is. Can a sport devoid of personalities still be enjoybale? Imagine if all professional footballers were as straight-laced as Aaron Hughes or Peter Beardsley? The game would instantly lose its attraction.
Continuing the long line of erratic geniuses that includes Maradon, Cantona and Di Canio, Balotelli is just another player who's erratic temperament has contributed to their incredible footballing talent. However, perhaps because he hasn't produced consitently excellent performances for Manchester City, Balotelli is not held in quite the same esteem as his fellow nutters. Still, at only 20-years-old, there's plenty of time.
He's arrogant, egotistical and can't dress himself, but so what? Mario Balotelli is an entertainer. And long may his mentalness continue.