Mario Balotelli and Rio Ferdinand recall their fiery spat in Manchester derby

Mario Balotelli and Rio Ferdinand recalled a bust-up from their playing days in Manchester as they sat side by side at the Champions League final.

Around a decade ago, Balotelli and Ferdinand were on opposite sides as City and United battled for local bragging rights, just as the ‘noisy neighbours’ were beginning to become a force in English football.

That stoked an already fierce rivalry and after one City win, Balotelli incurred the wrath of Ferdinand and his teammate by celebrating in front of the United fans. BT Sport showed some stills of the pair embroiled in a melee, but the passage of time means they were able to see the funny side.

Ferdinand said: “Mario was celebrating after the game, you beat us that day, didn’t you. He celebrated in front of our fans and I took offence, I wasn’t happy. But he was cool under pressure, as always.”

READ MORE: Mario Balotelli recreates iconic Man City moment for BT Sport before UCL final

Balotelli then gave his take on the bust-up in question. He explained: “I was celebrating towards their fans so I understand why they got angry. But, to be honest, it happened on the pitch and it stayed on the pitch.”

Another member of the BT Sport panel in Istanbul, Joleon Lescott, then of City, was also involved in the melee, with Ferdinand jokingly branding him “security”.

Lescott recalled: “Mario was very calm in that situation. That’s probably as animated as I’ve seen Rio throughout his career. But Mario was brilliant at winding up opposition players and fans.”

The maverick striker had a foot in both camps having played for both Inter and City during his eventful career, which is still ongoing as he finds himself at Swiss side Sion.

During the early part of his career, the Italian was just as well known for his antics off the pitch as he was for his prowess in front of goal. Balotelli got himself into numerous scrapes, including a fallout with Jose Mourinho while at Inter and alleged training ground fights with teammates.

One tale involved a fireworks incident at his home that started a minor blaze and reportedly caused significant damage to a set of curtains. His bad boy reputation ensured plenty of attention from the media.

In true Balotelli style, he had an answer for his detractors. After scoring in a Manchester derby at Old Trafford in 2011, Balotelli lifted up his jersey to reveal the words, ‘Why always me?’, on his undershirt.

He had arranged the message in conjunction with the City kitman and later admitted it was a direct response to the negative media coverage he had been receiving.

Source: Read Full Article