MARCO MATERAZZI once handed out “a good beating” to then Inter Milan team-mate Mario Balotelli after the Champions League semi-final in 2010.
Fiery Italian and Inter Milan duo Mario Balotelli (left) and Marco Materazzi had it out in 2010 after the former’s Champions League antics
However, the game is often remembered for Balotelli‘s petulance at the full-time whistle after his lacklustre display off the bench.
On Instagram live, Materazzi recalled: “I gave him a good beating, it’s true. I love Mario, but he really deserved it that day.
“We’ve become friends again now, practically brothers, but he did something that day that he really should not have done. Throwing his shirt to the ground after the final whistle wasn’t even the worst of it.
“Before the game, on the team bus, he told us: ‘Today I’m going to play badly,’ so I promised to make him pay if he did.
“When he came off the bench, he tried a shot from midfield rather than going on the counter. Diego Milito wanted to kill him.
“We believed in Mario, he scored many goals and contributed to the victory, but a week after that, I asked Mourinho to put me against Balotelli in the training ground games between ranks.
“After a few seconds, I’d sent him back to the dressing room.”
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The unorthodox relationship between team-mates clearly did no damage to Inter as they went on to win the treble that season, including a 2-0 Champions League final triumph over Bayern Munich in Madrid.
Materazzi’s disciplining of Balotelli may have made him seem like a father figure to the precocious young talent.
But the defensive ace – infamous for being on the receiving end of Zinedine Zidane‘s headbutt during Italy’s 2006 World Cup final victory – reserved special praise for Balotelli’s own father.
He said: “I really loved his father, as after a game with Rubin Kazan he told Mario: ‘I didn’t like your performance, you have to play more for your team-mates. And stop going around with girls!’
“What an idol.”
Since his spell with Inter, Balotelli has gone on to play for Manchester City, Milan, Liverpool, Nice, Marseille, Brescia and Monza.
In July 2021 he made a shock transfer to Turkish Super Lig side Adana Demirspor.
Over the past year he has racked up an impressive goal tally, netting 19 times in 34 appearances for the Turkish side.