- Last Updated on 30 June 2012
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Mario was born to Ghanaian immigrants, Rose and Thomas Barwuah in Palermo, Italy, but health problems led to him being fostered, then adopted by Francesco and Silvia Balotelli, an Italian family in Brescia.
Legally, the family separation might be complete but the Barwuah clan have kept a close eye on Mario’s career.
Unfortunately, Mario’s grandfather Nana, a retired bus driver, expired two weeks ago at the age of 74.
Mario, 21, had plans to visit the African state for the first time in August to see his grandad and had sent him a baseball cap with his signature embroidered inside as a gift. However, his father Thomas informed him that Nana had passed away.
The Man City star, whose transfer value has soared to 52 million pounds, made no mention of his grandfather’s death in his post-match interviews, preferring to focus on his adoptive family who have brought him up since he was a toddler.
However, there was no ill feeling from his blood relatives, and they hoped that he would still make a visit to Ghana.
“We are all extremely proud of him. It was wonderful when he scored both goals and we were ecstatic. When he pulled his shirt off and showed off his chest after scoring my friends made me do the same thing,” a newspaper quoted as Mario’s uncle, Alex Barwuah, as saying.
“It made me feel closer to him. I’ve never met Mario but I feel very happy when I see him on TV. We watch him whenever we can. I’m so proud he is part of the family,” he added.
As the Italian football team clinched their place in tomorrow night’s Euro 2012 final, their two-goal hero Balotelli celebrated that special moment with Silvia, the woman who brought him up from the age of three, by diving into the crowd in the stands to giver her a hug.
“I told her, ‘these goals are for you’. I waited for this moment for so long and I wanted to make my mum happy,” he said.