I was kit man at Man City and I can't believe what I found when I opened Mario Balotelli's locker | The Sun
MANCHESTER CITY'S former kit man has revealed what he found in Mario Balotelli's locker during his time at the club.
Balotelli, 32, spent three years at the Etihad between 2010 and 2013, scoring 30 goals in 80 games and winning the Premier League and FA Cup.
But he will also be remembered for his off-field antics – which included setting fireworks off inside his house and receiving thousands of pounds worth of parking fines.
And Man City's kit man from back then, Les Chapman, has now told a hilarious story about discovering the tickets for those fines in Balotelli's locker.
Speaking on the Ninety Three Twenty Podcast, he said: "I used to do tours of the training ground. And I can remember going in the dressing room with the first tour after Mario had left.
"And I said to them, 'This is Mario's locker'. Opened the door and about 30 parking tickets fell out! And a wage slip. He'd been fined by the club, that month, £100,000.
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"He had his car impounded 27 times and owed Manchester City Council 10s of thousands of pounds when he left and I think the club paid it up for him."
Chapman also revealed the backstory to the famous "Why always me?" shirt.
The story about Balotelli setting fireworks off inside his house had broken the day before the Manchester derby in 2011.
The Italian then started the game at Old Trafford and scored the first goal in City's historic 6-1 victory.
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After netting the opener, he lifted up his top to display an undershirt which read: "Why always me?"
Explaining the process of getting that printed, Chapman said: "Every morning we used to go to this little area at the back of the dressing rooms. There was this little area with a few tables where you could have a tea or coffee.
"He'd have one my fags – I used to smoke then – and he'd probably have two cigarettes, one after the other. Never brought his own. He must have had 80 packets and 70 lighters but never got me one cigarette.
"This particular day Mario took me around and said 'I want this printed on my shirt, what do you think?' I said yeah I'll print it up, but [I told him] you can't have anything that's offensive to United fans or anybody really.
"He came out with one or two things and I said 'No, Mario' and then he said 'what about why always me?' As soon as he said it I thought that's just about perfect and then I got in trouble after the game.
"They wouldn't let me print anymore shirts after that game because instead of just lifting his shirt up to there, he lifted it over his head and got booked so David Platt said 'message from [Roberto] Mancini, don't print anymore shirts'.
"After five minutes it had gone global so Mario said to me 'Get onto Umbro, we want commission on this stuff being sold'. So I rang Umbro and requested and they said 'we can't do anything about it'.
"He came out with it and it's the most ideal thing he could have said."
Balotelli had a fiery relationship with Man City manager Mancini.
The Italian coach often found it difficult to control the striker – as was shown when he was sent off in the 36th minute of a Europa League clash against Dynamo Kyiv in 2011.
Recalling what happened immediately after Balotelli's dismissal, Chapman added: "We played Dynamo Kyiv one night and he got sent off after about 20 minutes. So he's gone in the dressing room and I've followed and he's just sat there in front of his locker quietly,' Chapman said.
"The next 10 seconds Mancini stormed into the dressing room, swearing and screaming at the top of his voice in Italian expletives, waving his arms around like a man possessed and just going bezerk while the game's going on.
"He turned to go back out to the game and saw one of the players' bags – [Costel] Pantilimon's Louis Vuitton case – Mancini picked it up, turned and threw it at Balotelli's head. Mario's ducked and it's the back of his locker.
"Mancini's run up to him again, screaming Italian expletives again and I'm thinking 'Hit him, Mario'. I'd stepped in between them thinking it's going to kick off. Then he just turned back and went to watch the game."
Balotelli left Man City 10 years ago and joined AC Milan.
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Since then he has had spells with Liverpool, Nice, Marseille, Brescia, Monza and Adana Demirspor.
He is now playing for Swiss side FC Sion where he has been since 2022.
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