The Italian striker has taken a shine to a stray cat called Wimblydon who is a frequent visitor to the Manchester City training ground.
Animal lover Mario, who enjoys visiting zoos and wildlife parks, now makes daily checks on the ginger moggie, which has been allowed to roam the complex for more than a decade.
A source said: "Mario loves Wimblydon and would love to take him home.
"Every day he comes in and makes sure the cat has come in to training and been fed.
"He was quite bemused at first that a cat was allowed to roam the grounds but it appeals to his sense of humour.
"Mario is always keeping an eye out in the car park to make sure none of the lads actually run over the cat. He's very protective of him."
The cat received its name from former Colombian fitness coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who had trouble pronouncing "Wimbledon" a few years back.
Mario bought two chow chow puppies before Christmas and has another dog – black labrador Lucky – back in Italy.
Good job he's picking up a decent wage at City, his pet food bill must be huge.
Cats welcome in this post, cat haters are not