It was supposed to be Mario Balotelli’s chance to shine. Instead, “Super Mario” acted like a sore loser by storming out of Kiev’s Olympic Stadium and refusing to talk to reporters after the spectacular Italian defeat against back-to-back European champion Spain by 4-0.
This is an outcome that even Spain’s most rabid fans did not expect. Balotelli was the Euro 2012 final indisputable rising star after pulling a stunning upset against the tournament’s great favorite Germany. The Spanish, they said, should fear Italy’s lethal “Super Mario Bros.” combo (Mario Balotelli and goal keeper Gianluigi Buffon). And, perhaps, they were wise to do so.
The controversial Manchester City striker, who in 2011 burnt his own home down with fireworks and risked his own life trying to save a suitcase full of money, was poised to reclaim the last laugh at Euro 2012. He had been depicted as King Kong in an Italian newspaper’s cartoon, and racially bashed by Croatian and Spanish fans during the early stages of UEFA 2012. Having eliminated Germany, Balotelli was supposed to vindicate himself by stopping Spain from becoming the best European team ever. But it didn’t happen.
Perhaps, the Spanish were just superior in their game. However, skill and technique by themselves are not enough to make someone a champion. In order for any team to win – in sports, as in life – there has to be a spirit of cohesion and cooperation. Maybe the Spanish are not as gifted individually as Balotelli – or Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, for that matter – but their group game gives them an edge when facing rivals with big-time stars on their ranks.
But the main reason why “Super” Mario Balotelli and Ronaldo failed is because of a lack of humility (the same that prompted the Portuguese-born Real Madrid striker to “save himself” for his team's non-existent fifth penalty kick again the Spanish in the semifinals). Without humility, even the world’s best players risk losing touch with their teammates – a recipe for failure in any team-oriented discipline or activity.