Mario Balotelli, the enigmatic striker with mercurial talent, has always been as good at hitting the headlines as he is at hitting the back of the net.

A brace in a Manchester derby demolition is one way to guarantee you do the former, whilst also cementing your place in Manchester City folklore.

But only Mario, a true maverick in modern football, could be remembered more for a celebration than scoring two goals in the joint-largest victory in Manchester derby history.

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Having stroked home from 18-yards to give City a 1-0 lead at Old Trafford, the Italian turned and lifted his shirt over his head to reveal a message.

Why always me?

It is, undoubtedly, one of the most iconic celebrations in the history of the Premier League.

On the surface, lifting your shirt to reveal what was a particularly cryptic message isn’t all that noteworthy, but context is everything.

Cast your mind back to Sunday 23 October 2011.

It’s a day City fans will never forget, as Roberto Mancini’s side rocked up at Old Trafford and delivered a 6-1 thrashing of Manchester United with all the style and swagger you’d expect from a team that went on to be crowned Premier League champions.

It was a performance City fans will cherish forever and rightly so, we were superb across the pitch, but it was Balotelli who was the name on everyone’s lips afterwards.

There was much talk of what was meant by his tongue-in-cheek celebration.

Why always me? It perfectly encapsulated City’s No.45.

Having swapped Milan for Manchester 14 months earlier, the Italian became one of the most talked about footballers in the world.

WATCH: City Moments: Mario Balotelli - Why Always Me?

The countless stories of his off the field antics were the stuff of urban legend, whilst his camouflage Bentley ensured he was never inconspicuous.

Only, he never handed over thousands of pounds to a homeless man, nor did he issue a telling off to a school bully.

There was however an incident at his house the day before the derby in question, when emergency services were called after a firework was set off in his bathroom.

Balotelli wasn’t responsible, but the absurdity of it all left many thinking he deliberately chose that celebration as the perfect riposte to the latest in a long line of bizarre stories. 

However, Why Always Me? had actually been planned days in advance.

“The Monday before the Manchester United derby at Old Trafford Mario pulled me on one side in the morning and said he wanted me to print something on his compression shirt before the game,” says former City kitman, Les ‘Chappy’ Chapman.

“I said you can’t print anything that’s controversial or anything that’s going to be offensive.

"He thought for a minute or two and came out with one or two things. I said no, that’s not appropriate.

“Then he came out with it, out of the blue. ‘What about why always me?’ As soon as he said I knew that was the one.”

The man himself was particularly coy about what he meant by the phrase at the time.

“I did it for many reasons,” Balotelli said afterwards.

“But I’ll leave it for other people to figure out what it means. I’m sure people can work it out.”

WATCH: United 1-6 City: 2011/12

A year later, as the cover star of Time Magazine, he shed more light on the reasons behind the infamous celebration, suggesting it was a request for the media to ‘leave me alone’ after the intense focus on his life.

Whatever Mario’s intentions, the celebration caught the imagination of football fans around the world and reinforced his status as one of the game’s great cult heroes.

It had quite the cultural impact, too.

T-shirts bearing the now famous phrase went on sale, whilst UK rapper Tinchy Stryder released a track named in Balotelli and his unforgettable celebration's honour, with the lyrics:

Why always me? Why always me?
Why always me? Why always me?
I'm screaming why always me? Why always me?
Why always me? Why always me? Mario Balotelli.

The term became etched in both sporting and non-sporting lexicon. Search for it in Google and you'll even find it has a place on slang definition website, Urban Dictionary. 

As for Super Mario, it was his crowning glory as one of football's greatest characters, which displayed everything fans and particularly City fans, loved about him.

It was a fine strike, in which he displayed his trademark ice cool composure in front of goal, and a celebration which typified his vibrant personality.

He will always be fondly remembered for his Man of the Match performance in our 2011 FA Cup final triumph, whilst it was he who played the decisive pass for Sergio Aguero’s 93:20 goal.

But those three simple words – Why Always Me? – are perhaps the most lasting legacy of his time in sky blue.

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