August 10th, 2011
Baller Bylines: Daniele De Rossi & Mario Balotelli
Images: Getty Images/Daylife
Balotelli: Daniele? Can I have a moment?
De Rossi: My time is precious, homie. What is it?
Balo: Well, as a team elder I hold you in high esteem and have long admired your reputation, both on and off the pitch. I see myself as something of a mercurial lunatic type too, but my behaviour doesn’t seem to be endearing me to the fanbase or my manager. I’m confused.
De Rossi: You’re a fool, child. You can’t just dress like a pillock, collect parking fines and act like an idiot on the pitch and expect people to love you. It takes consistency and commitment. The fans have to genuinely believe you’re insane, not just an immature kid with an over-inflated pay cheque and a selection of crap hats.
Balo: Oh. So I have to wait? I was banking on them falling in love with me sooner, rather than later. It’s getting a bit… awkward.
De Rossi: All I can say is that your spiritual guides have already provided the answer to you, if only you would open your eyes. Look at Socrates. He smoked forty cigarettes a day in his playing career. Eric Cantona? Mad as a bag of spanners. Rino Gattuso? Mentalist. And of course, me. The maddest of them all. What do we all have in common?
De Rossi: Facial hair, you cretinous fool! The beard is a vital part of the insanity armoury. It provides warmth, seclusion and a quiet place to hide and make plans. If you want to be taken seriously as a maverick, you must have a beard. It’s Mad Dude 101.
Balo: Oh. Oh really? I get a me beard and people will take my tomfoolery seriously and love me for it? Daniele, you’ve saved my life and I will always be grateful to you. I shall have my people look into purchasing one for me immediately. Hell, I might get a few. I can’t thank you enough for your advice.
Mario jogs off into the difference. Daniele stares after him, uncertain whether his new protégé was serious. Sadly, he was.