Belfast Telegraph

Balotelli: I’m a bit mad but I'm not a Mancini cock-up

By Ian Herbert

Mario Balotelli says he is motivated to prosper at Manchester City because of those who said of his manager Roberto Mancini: “Look, he bought Mario. What a cock-up.”



Balotelli’s candid interview with Olivier Dacourt, his one-time Inter Milan team-mate, provides further evidence of the striker’s remarkable relationship with Mancini.

“He spent a lot to get me, he had great confidence in me, so I feel more responsibility towards him, so I can’t let myself do stupid things,” Balotelli told Dacourt in an interview which benefits from the former France international’s brutal honesty with the Italian. “Every time I play well, I’m pleased for myself, but I’m also pleased for him too. (People say) ‘Look, he bought Mario, what a cock-up, but now he’s strong, he’s strong.’ Perhaps in football, I’m getting better technically. I used to be a complete disaster!”

When Dacourt asked him if his coolness masked pressure, he said: “No. Truly no. You know you can’t replay the big games — so you must give everything in these games. All that you have learnt, all that God has given you, all that you have inside of you. If you don’t give everything you’ve just wasted your time.”

It was Mancini who suggested Balotelli might be a future Balon d’Or winner, though the 21-year-old tells Dacourt: “Yes, I think I can (win it) but (Lionel) Messi needs to drop a level or it will never happen!”

The Italian provides further glimpses into his remarkable off-field life in the interview by Noel Gallagher, screened on BBC1’s Football Focus today.

It offers Balotelli the chance to dispel some of the urban myths about himself which have been enjoyed by the showbusiness writers. The stories of him driving around Manchester dressed as Santa Claus dishing money out and paying for other motorists’ petrol at a filling station are evidently urban myths.

But Balotelli really has taken magic lessons from a practitioner of that art whom he met at Manchester’s Trafford Centre and subsequently invited to his house. (He has mastered one trick but it’s a “difficult” one). And he really did go to John Lewis to buy his mother an ironing board, only to emerge with a quad bike and a trampoline. “Why he have to go mad?” Balotelli says of Mancini’s reaction to that. The City manager may be reassured to know that his player wears the necessary helmet.

The striker gives a detailed explanation of that firework incident in the toilet of his rented property in Mottram St Andrew, which saw the fire brigade called and Balotelli moved out – never to return. Balotelli said he had found a metal bin to place the fireworks in but instead one of his friends placed one in the toilet.

“They just start screaming blah blah blah and the fireworks was going off and they put the fireworks on the bed — not on the bed sorry on the toilet,” he related. “The curtain caught on fire. That’s it — nothing else. Just the toilet was lost.”

Dacourt presses Balotelli on the theory that all geniuses are mad. “A little bit perhaps. It’s not me who’s the maddest, that’s for sure,” he replies.

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