Mario Balotelli fronts firework safety campaign

Explosive striker warns kids not to mess with rockets – despite his fondness for fireworks

LAST UPDATED AT 13:17 ON Tue 25 Oct 2011

COULD the world of Manchester City footballer Mario Balotelli get any stranger? After a weekend of pyrotechnics during which his house was almost burned down after someone let off a rocket in his bathroom, the madcap striker has been unveiled as the face of a fireworks safety campaign.
And while Balotelli is adamant that the rocket was not his handiwork, but that of an irresponsible guest, he is on record describing his penchant for firing rockets from his windows.

The 21-year-old was forced to call the fire brigade and flee his £3m rented home in Cheshire in the early hours of Saturday morning after the blaze broke out. But it didn't stop the explosive Italian from firing on the pitch a day later as he scored twice in Manchester City’s now famous 6-1 defeat of United at Old Trafford.

After the fire at his home, Balotelli apparently confessed that he and a group of friends had been setting off fireworks through an open window of the five-bedroom property, and that one had set fire to a pile of towels.

But now he has seen the error of his ways and is fronting a regional safety campaign - possibly at the behest of the fire crews who were called to his home, or exasperated club officials at the Etihad Stadium.

The unlikely safety campaigner was also anxious to explain what really happened on Saturday morning. Balotelli said: "I didn't set any fireworks off, it was a friend of mine. I didn't know anything about it until I heard the shouting coming from the bathroom.

"Luckily, nobody was injured, and my friend apologised to me for the damage to my house. It was a really stupid thing for him to do, someone could have been really hurt, and I was really, really angry with him about it.

"It is an important message that children should not mess with fireworks. They can be very dangerous if they are not used in the right way. People should follow the firework code."

While no-one would question Balotelli's version of events and his commitment to the safety of Manchester's youth, he does seem to have a fondness for explosives. Earlier this year he told an Italian journalist about his life in England...

"I live right in the centre of Manchester, in a modern building, with a splendid view," he said, talking about his old flat. "One day when my brother Giovanni was outside he looked up and said to his girlfriend, 'How nice, Camilla. Look, they're doing fireworks in Manchester.' But it was me, shooting them off from the ninth floor." · 

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