Unpredictable Player: Mario Balotelli
He is a genuine match winner but his antics off field and on it have made him an unpredictable player. Can Mario Balotelli live up to his talent and be the world’s most feared trigger man or will he remain on page 3 rag? Let’s find out.
FHM: Everyone is talking about you going back to the English Premier League and joining Chelsea. Any truth in this as you had told the media that “you were treated unfairly in England”?
Balotelli: I have always said I would find it hard to play for any English team apart from Manchester City – but in football, you always have to say nothing is impossible. Towards the end of my time in England, the press just liked to write about Mario – even if it wasn’t true what they were writing it anyway. That is what bothered me when people wrote things that were not true – but all the English press wanted to do was write about me.
FHM: You are one of the most talented strikers in the world but you are better known for your controversies like burning down your house or on the field clash between you and Roberto Mancini. Have you now simmered down and well settled in Milan?
Balotelli: I have been playing at the top since I was a young age. I was a young guy at Manchester City – and even younger when I was at Inter. Like any young man, he takes time to mature – just when you are a professional football player the world is looking at you. I feel I have matured now – and just want to concentrate on my football and being the best.
FHM: This season you joined AC Milan, arch rivals of your former club Inter Milan, did you face hostility from the fans?
Balotelli: I think the game has changed – not many players stay at one club their whole career anymore. Of course, you are going to get hostility in football – and that is fine. What I can’t stand is racism – that is something completely different. It is something that there needs to be a serious punishment for.
FHM: How do you think the English Premier League is different from the Serie A and which league, in your opinion, is more demanding?
Balotelli: I think they are very different. In England, the defenders are more physical so that side of the game is tougher – but in Italy normally the setup of the teams is a lot more defensive so you have to find the space to expose defenders. In England, the game is a lot more open.
FHM: If a genie asks you which club would like to join what would be your answer?
Balotelli: I am at a great club in Milan. The winning tradition they have in Italy and in Europe is among the best in the world. It would not be right to answer this question – especially when I am at one of the best clubs in Europe already.
FHM: You have already worked with Jose Mourinho do you rate him higher than Pep Guardiola and other top coaches?
Balotelli: I can only comment on coaches I have worked under – and Jose is the best in the world. We didn’t always share the perfect relationship at Inter – but now our relationship is good and there is mutual respect between us. He is one of the most hungry and also intelligent men in football. He knows everything about the game – and he knows how to get everything out of his players.
FHM: Who do you think should win Ballon d’or this year?
Balotelli: I think individually Messi had the best season – but of course Bayern Munich achieved very special things last season in Germany and Europe. It is an individual award though – and I don’t see how anybody can win it apart from Messi.
FHM: You started wearing a t-shirt which read “Why Always Me”, what was all that about?
Balotelli: When I asked the kit man at Manchester City to print it for me – I had no idea how big it would become. It had more than one meaning – but really it meant why are you always talking about me. In the media there was a lot of stuff written and a lot of it was not true. I was asking them “why always me?”
FHM: Who do you think is the world’s best player Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo...or Mario Balotelli?
Balotelli: I do have confidence in my ability and believe I will be the best player in the world – but I have to admit at the moment that Messi is on another level to any player out there. You have to respect all that he has achieved and all that he has done in the game.
FHM: Have you played/visited India?
Balotelli: I have never visited India – but I would like to. It looks like a very interesting country – and I think it is important for people to visit other parts of the world and experience new things. It helps us grow as people to open our minds.
FHM: What are your impressions of India from what you read and see?
Balotelli: I know that football is growing in India and Asia in general. Of course in India cricket is the number one sport for them – and we have to respect that is their national game. It is exciting to see the game develop though. Hopefully, as more youngsters start playing football in India – we might be able to see Indian people come and play professionally at the top clubs in Europe.