Saturday, 23 June 2012

Terry v Balotelli: Football’s pantomime villains


When England play Italy in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals on Sunday night, it won't just be the two nations going head-to-head. It will also be a meeting of two of the most controversial figures in the game, John Terry and Mario Balotelli.
So we decided to take a look at the lowlights - and even one or two highlights - of the careers of football's two great pantomime villains.
Both players have already hit the headlines in the tournament, with Terry being right at the heart of the  single most controversial incident with his attempted goal-line clearance against Ukraine.
John Terry makes his controversial clearance
John Terry makes his controversial clearance

It was a classic piece of Terry defending, backs-against-the-wall stuff from a man who is lucky to even be at the tournament considering he has a court case pending.
Balotelli has also been at the heart of the action, with the decision on whether or not he should play against England becoming something of a national obsession in Italy - all the more so given his impressive late goal against Ireland to confirm his country's quarter-final spot.

Even then, the Italian managed to turn a moment of joy into a moment of controversy as he immediately turned to the bench to harangue Cesare Prandelli for not having brought him on earlier. Luckily, Leonardo Bonucci was on hand to cover the striker's mouth with his hand - and to then tell the press that whatever Super Mario said was in English, and that he'd not understood it.
The stage is set, then, for one - or hopefully both - of the controversial stars to get involved in the mother of all blow-ups during the match in Kiev on Sunday. And to get you all in the mood to witness the likely pyrotechnics, we've summarised the best and worst of both the players' careers so far.

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