Topless Balotelli pose now global meme
Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli may have seen his Italian side thrashed by the Spaniards at the Euro 2012 final, but the always entertaining and sometimes controversial footballer has become one of the most, well, Photoshopped men from the play-offs.
His infamous "Balotelli pose", a sort of Hulk-mad-Hulk smash posturing, has been used by extremely creative—and perhaps terribly bored—sport fans to transform him into a multitude of fantasy characters including a ballet dancer, a Super Mario brother and a Na’vi alien from Avatar.
The Internet meme started as a friendly jab at the unpredictable and polarising player, who has in the past had to deal with verbal racist attacks from football hooligans. But the images have since become a viral sensation with hundreds of blogs and websites posting them.
One of the more innocuous images has him grabbing a monster bucket of KFC. Another turns him into a Super Saiyan character from the Japanese manga series Dragon Ball. And another changes him into Blanka from Street Fighter.
Someone even embedded him next to President Barack Obama, in that famous picture that shows him sitting in the Situation Room at the White House, along with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton, watching the report on the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Mario's strutting, shirtless celebration was first displayed at the Italy versus Germany semi-final match. After finding the back of the net a second time to send the Germans home, the 22-year-old playmaker whipped off his jersey and flexed his muscles, to which the referee flashed him a yellow card.
After the final whistle, he ran into the stands and hugged his mother, an act that turned him into Italy's national hero. That was a far cry from after the final whistle at his match against Spain, when he stormed into the tunnel in tears and had to be coaxed to return to the field to collect his consolation medal.
Published: 4th July 2012