Les Chapman, Manchester City’s former kit man, has revealed some hilarious stories about his time at the club and the antics of one of its most famous players, Mario Balotelli. Balotelli spent three years at the Etihad between 2010 and 2013, scoring 30 goals in 80 games and winning the Premier League and FA Cup. However, he was also known for his off-field antics, including setting off fireworks inside his house and receiving thousands of pounds worth of parking fines. Chapman revealed that he found the tickets for those fines in Balotelli’s locker, along with a wage slip showing that he had been fined £100,000 by the club that month. Balotelli had also had his car impounded 27 times and owed Manchester City Council tens of thousands of pounds when he left, but the club paid it up for him.
Chapman also revealed the backstory to Balotelli’s famous “Why always me?” shirt. The Italian striker had set off fireworks inside his house the day before the Manchester derby in 2011. He then started the game at Old Trafford and scored the first goal in City’s historic 6-1 victory. After netting the opener, he lifted up his shirt to display an undershirt which read: “Why always me?” Chapman explained that Balotelli had asked him to print the slogan on his shirt that morning, but he had to make sure it wasn’t offensive to United fans or anyone else. Balotelli came up with a few ideas, but Chapman rejected them until he suggested “Why always me?” which Chapman thought was just about perfect. After the game, Balotelli wanted commission on the shirts being sold, but Umbro said they couldn’t do anything about it.
Balotelli had a fiery relationship with Man City manager Roberto Mancini, who often found it difficult to control him. Chapman recalled an incident during a Europa League clash against Dynamo Kyiv in 2011 when Balotelli was sent off in the 36th minute. After the dismissal, Mancini stormed into the dressing room, swearing and screaming at the top of his voice in Italian expletives, waving his arms around like a man possessed. He then picked up one of the players’ bags – Costel Pantilimon’s Louis Vuitton case – and threw it at Balotelli’s head. Balotelli ducked and the bag hit the back of his locker. Mancini then ran up to him again, screaming Italian expletives, but Chapman stepped in between them to prevent a fight.
Balotelli left Man City 10 years ago and joined AC Milan. Since then he has had spells with Liverpool, Nice, Marseille, Brescia, Monza and Adana Demirspor. He is now playing for Swiss side FC Sion where he has been since 2022.