Injury concerns kept Mario Balotelli from starting Italy's final Group C match against Ireland, but with his side up 1-0 from an Antonio Cassano goal in the first half, Mario did play the final 15 minutes of the game. Balotelli sealed the win and Italy's place in the quarterfinals with a skillful volley off a corner kick at the start of injury time, holding back Ireland defender John O'Shea as he brought his right leg across his body to pin the ball to the net.
After he scored, his nervous teammates rushed over to him and Leonardo Bonucci quickly put his hand over Mario's mouth to protect the angsty 21-year-old from saying anything that would get him in trouble. An act of futility if ever there was one. Said Bonucci after the match (via Football Italia):
"He said something in English, so I've no idea what it was! Unfortunately, Mario is very instinctive and that is also his strength. Without that personality he wouldn't have scored such a great goal."
So what did Mario say? My money is on "Soylent Green is people!" Either that or lyrics from a Nickelback song.
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- Mario Balotelli