On an ancient street in Napoli, crowded with figurines destined for Christmas nativity scenes, a blue jersey with a white, green and red collar stands out: forward Mario Balotelli from the national football team.
Throughout the year, the artisans of San Gregorio Armeno Street in Napoli create crib figurines commemorating the most notable and newsworthy individuals and, this week, in honour of the two goals that brought Italy to the Euro Cup final, Mario Baloletti has been chosen.
Sporting his characteristic earring and stripe of blond-tipped hair, the Baloletti figurine is smiling wide and waving with his left hand while he holds a football in his right. There is also rumoured to be a version of him removing his jersey while celebrating his second goal, a display of excitement that earned him a yellow card during the match.
Master crèche maker Genny di Virgilio created the figurine not only in honour of Balotelli's goals, but also his character. Balotelli dedicated his two goals in the match against England to his adopted mother Silvia Balotelli, who has cared for him since he was two years old.
In last night's Euro Cup final, Balotelli was unable to score his fourth goal of the tournament, and the Italians lost to the Spanish squad 4-0. Injuries and exhaustion led them to use up all of their substitutions and play the end of the game one player down.
Though they lost the match, the Azzurri and their coach Prandelli have told the press that they are proud of the work they did to get to the final.