MICAH RICHARDS has revealed some of the amazing charity work Mario Balotelli did while he was in Manchester.
But the ex-City defender admitted his former team-mate was ultimately let down by his 'class clown' antics.
The Italian forward spent three eventful years at Manchester City from 2010-2013 before moving back to his homeland to join AC Milan.
Among his mad moments in Manchester, he is said to have set of fireworks in his kitchen and had training ground run-ins with the likes of manager Roberto Mancini and captain Vincent Kompany.
But Richards shed light on the other side of Balotelli and some of the incredible causes he donated to while in England.
In his BBC column, Richards wrote: "Everything about him is outrageous, but he has a heart of gold.
"When you asked him about the stories, he would say a lot of them were rubbish, even if some of the ridiculous things actually happened, even we didn't know what could be true with Mario.
"What is definitely true is that he gave £1,000 in cash to a homeless person in Manchester on at least one occasion.
"He donated a lot to causes like that, I heard him once deny that he collected a boy who was being bullied at school and took him to see the headmaster, but I think that happened because people were calling me to tell me that Mario had been seen at a school."
Richards continued: "He plays the class clown, but there is another side of him that not everyone knows, he's not an idiot, he's intelligent and what is often forgotten is that he's also a brilliant footballer.
"As a player he stood out, even with all the talent we had at Manchester City, we had attackers that were first class, but Mario's definition was the best I ever saw, he knew how good he was and he knew he had it all, I just wish he'd continued to apply himself.
"He was brilliant to be around because he had so much energy and it was clear that he cared about other people as well."
Balotelli has been linked with a move to Barnsley after being released by Brescia in the summer.
He has recently been training to keep up his fitness with Italian Serie D club Sporting Franciacorta.
SunSport previously exclusively revealed how the Italian bad boy was offered to the Tykes when contact between Balotelli's agent and Oakwell co-chairmen Chien Lee and Paul Conway was made.
Both sides were initially interested in the move before Balotelli's enthusiasm to play in the Championship cooled.
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