Mario Balotelli earns more press attention for his off-field antics than his considerable on-field efforts. The Manchester City and Italy star has grown accustomed to this aspect of life in England, according to the Guardian.
“They tend to talk more about my private life than what I do on the field,” Balotelli said in a news conference. “This is normal, but I get tired of it. And if I didn’t do the things I do, I would be bored.
“I’m not mad, not at all –- even if sometimes I do things that are a bit strange. English newspapers like the Sun are worse than the Italian ones. A newspaper that puts naked ladies on the front cover …”
Balotelli’s list of recent escapades is nothing like that of your average 21-year-old. He was questioned by an Italian prosecutor for hanging out with members of the Camorra crime syndicate. He emerged unscathed when he wrecked his car in Manchester last year. He recently moved into a hotel because his friends burned down part of his rented home while playing with fireworks indoors.
Despite the headlines, Balotelli has helped fire Manchester City to the top of the Enlgish Premier League. He’s scored seven times in 10 games this season and overcame the injuries that limited him to just 17 games in his first season in English soccer.
“English football taught me the pressing game and to chase opponents when I lose the ball,” Balotelli said about adjusting to a new style of play. “I don’t miss Italian football, the level there has fallen a long way, while English football is beautiful and enjoyable.”
It seems Balotelli will continue to occupy the press with bizzare behavior off the field, but his play for club and country is turning him into a star. He is on track to play in his first major international tournament at next summer’s European championships. Italians are looking at him to carry the goal-scoring burden for his national team. It’s a challenge he readily accepts.
“Is there pressure on me? That’s always there,” he said. “I am ready to assume responsibility.”