Top Black Players to Watch in 2014 World Cup

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  • 061114 Sports The Black Players to Watch In The World Cup Neymar Mario Balotelli
  • Mario Balotelli
  • Neymar
  • Samuel Eto'o
  • Alex Song
  • Yaya Toure
  • Vincent Kompany
  • Paul Pogba
  • Tim Howard
  • Jozy Altidore
  • Marcelo
  • Kevin Prince Boeteng
  • Pepe

Mario Balotelli (Italy)

Most people who don’t follow soccer only know the greats, like Pele, Maradona and Beckham. But Mario Balotelli (whose parents are Ghanaian but he took the last name of his adopted family) is becoming a household name. And it is not necessarily because of his tricks on the field — of which there are many — but for the nonstop drama that surrounds him. Hijinks include police run-ins in his camouflage-painted Bentley, paternity claims launched over Twitter and accusations that he shot darts at the youth team. Most of the gossip is true, yet the frequently-blond and mohawk-wearing 23-year-old is still in demand — all that crazy is perfect on the field. Balotelli, who plays forward, is fast, determined and strong, and scored five goals in five appearances in Italy’s qualifying games for the World Cup. This past season at AC Milan was shaky, but in international play, he consistently proves why Italy’s nickname for him is Super Mario.

 (Photo: Joern Pollex/Getty Images)

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