Who remembers when Mario Balotelli apparently gave out money to the homeless? He set off fireworks in his own home didn't he? Crazy stuff! And what about that t-shirt he revealed after scoring - 'Why Always Me?'

What a character!

Oh and do you remember when he scored both goals against Germany in a masterful performance that destroyed many people's favourites for Euro 2012.

Yes in the best way possible things just got serious for Mario Balotelli.

He has answered his critics in the most emphatic of style.

This undeniably special talent has now displayed the control and poise to do it on the big international stage. It was quite something to witness and what we now have is a true football star to go with the tabloid dream.

A perfect header to open the scoring like an old fashioned cent forward. And a second goal of minimal backlift and exquisite quality. And didn't he enjoy milking it with his shirt off!

So this is why he was talked about in breathless terms as an emerging player in Italy.

This is why Roberto Mancini stuck by him at Manchester City despite all the eccentricity and problems.

This is why he has always known he is special.

Born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrant parents, the 22 year-old came into the tournament warning he'd react angrily to any racist abuse in Poland or Ukraine.

How refreshing the story has instead been his athletic, skilful leading of the Italian attack, his three goals in the tournament the most for an Italian at a European Championship. And that's not counting his super cool penalty against England. He doesn't miss them.

What a star. But you now want to cross fingers and toes he keeps his head against Spain and can test the grand masters. So our memories of him in this tournament are of outstanding goals, not a red card or a tantrum in the final.

There is an inevitability about him being in trouble again; it is just the way it is with him.

I hope it's not serious trouble. He has become the man they all want to be in the school playground, and if he can keep the headlines to football for a while it will be a relief.

He had a mad season at Manchester city but don't forget if he hadn't improvised while on the floor at the end of the season and slipped the ball to Aguero, Manchester City would not have won the English title. After all the ups and downs he was there battling and showing his genius at the end.

During Euro 2012 he has shone brightly with peerless Pirlo and brilliant Buffon; three great characters inspiring Italy to a surprisingly formidable challenge.

Now for mighty Spain here in Kiev on Sunday.

It finished 1-1 in their group match and the final is a mouthwatering prospect.

What odds on a rare quiet night for Super Mario? It doesn't always have to be him - but now he's the man for the big occasion. 

Source: Al Jazeera