In the second extract from his forthcoming autobiography, Brendan Rodgers describes the day he signed Italian misfit Mario Balotelli.
“Can we stop?” Mario asked. “I don’t feel comfortable with this.”
Twister isn’t everybody’s cup of tea as an ice-breaker, so I climbed out from between Mario’s legs and we sat back on the sofa.
“I want to sign you Mario,” I told him. “I can make you whole again. But I need to know if I can trust you. Look into my eyes.”
I scooched so close that the wind from my nostrils fluttered his nasal hair. We peered into one another’s souls, neither of us daring blink. His breath smelt faintly of Vino, and mine heavily of Monster Munch.
The sun set and rose again, yet still we sat unblinking. Time lost all meaning. Mario was first to lose his bladder. It was a new couch, but some things are more important than the finest imported Italian leather. My own bladder went soon after, like a pregnant woman’s water breaking. Our buttholes were ticking time bombs.
After 52 hours, Mario began to snore. The lad had fallen asleep with his eyes open. Outstanding commitment in my book. I shook him awake.
“Congratulations,” I told him. “I’m going to make you the next Kenny Dalglish.”
We both burst into tears, wailing at the top of our lungs. I asked Mario to sing Wing Beneath my Wings, but if I’m honest he butchered it.
“Come on big fella,” I said. “Let’s get out of these wet clothes and into a hot bath.”
We washed and shaved each others’ backs in silence, dreaming of which trophy we’d win together first.
“Can I get out now?” Mario asked. “I don’t feel comfortable with this.”