Add “trendsetter” to the list of adjectives applicable to Mario Balotelli. The striker’s stoic goal celebration in Italy’s 2-1 victory over Germany in the 2012 UEFA European Championships is starting to catch on globally.
After bagging his second, and decisive, goal of the game, Balotelli stopped on a dime, ripped off his jersey, and flexed while menacingly staring straight ahead. Though not big on smiling, the Italian still comes up with some of the best goal celebrations around, such as the “Why Always Me?” T-shirt he revealed after scoring in the Manchester derby.
Now, it seems “Super Mario” is becoming a global trendsetter. Ken Tokura, of Japanese club side Vissel Kobe, mimicked the striker’s pose and scowl after scoring a beautiful solo effort from distance. Tokura’s celebration was well-earned. His long-range strike was the game’s only goal, lifting Vissel Kobe to victory over Kawasaki Frontale in J-League play.
The mercurial Manchester City striker is coming off of a memorable European Championship. Italy played some of the tournament’s most aesthetically pleasing soccer all the way to the final before losing out to Spain. Balotelli played a key role in the Azzuri’s run, bagging three well-taken goals to finish as joint top scorer of the competition.