No Peter Pan but Balotelli ready to fly

Controversial Manchester City striker is relishing the prospect of playing against his clubmates

Kiev

Attempting to define the enigma that is Mario Balotelli has never been a pastime confined to England, and when Italy's latest offerings were put to the striker last night, it led to the bizarre response: "I am more of a man than Peter Pan."

Context is required. Daniele De Rossi, Italy's captain, this week described Balotelli (below) as an "ometto", which translates as a "little man" – a boy who is slowly becoming a man.

De Rossi believes a mature footballer is emerging from the character who once set off fireworks in his own house. Juxtaposed with earlier claims from Balotelli's agent, Mino Raiola, that his client was in fact a Peter Pan figure because the 21-year-old will never grow up, an Italian journalist sought his view on which comparison was more accurate.

"These are two metaphors for Mario the person not Mario the footballer," he said. "I think I'm a man but I don't think I need to say it. Mino said I'm Peter Pan because he wants to make people laugh. But I could be Peter Pan because I do things my own way, I'm a bit free. I could be Peter Pan but I think I'm more of a man than Peter Pan."

Balotelli made an unscheduled appearance in Italy's pre-match press conference here in the Olympic Stadium and attracted most of the attention after a typically turbulent Euro 2012.

The Manchester City forward started Italy's opening two matches before Cesare Prandelli opted to drop him for their final Group C clash against Republic of Ireland.

Balotelli came off the bench to score and had his mouth covered by team-mate Leonardo Bonucci as he celebrated, to prevent any further controversy.

But the man himself rejected suggestions he had a suspect temperament and insists he is merely acclimatising to international football before what will be his 12th cap tonight. "The national shirt has always meant a lot to me right from when I was a kid," he said. "I think that's absolutely normal. In the first few games I was very emotional because it was my first European Championships and it is normal that you have a reaction there.

"The only thing it might have been was that I hadn't scored a goal, that's why I might have got a bit worked up. But I wasn't angry, nor did I have problems with the squad itself or problems off the pitch. I have been fine.

"This is different to what your colleague said, that I have got an attitude problem, but I was absolutely fine. The only thing was that I didn't score a goal and that's it. It was an important goal I scored against Ireland because I hadn't got on the scoresheet in the past two games.

"You said I was having a problem putting the ball in the net but I didn't have any psychological problems. There is no mental block there at all."

Balotelli will face his City team-mates Joleon Lescott, Joe Hart and James Milner, and also mistakenly mentioned Gareth Barry – who pulled out of the squad with a stomach injury.

"I hope it will be a good match and it will be fun playing against my Manchester City team-mates," he said. "They know me and I know them. I just hope it is going to be fun but I want to win even if they are my team-mates and put in a good performance, and I hope they will lose."

Prandelli confirmed Thiago Motta is fit to start after a minor hamstring problem but revealed that for the first time since taking charge two years ago, he will only inform the players of the starting line-up an hour before kick-off.

"We have prepared for this game by looking at England's

previous games and what we've noticed is that England are one of the most organised European sides," said Prandelli. "They play within a space of about 40 yards so we need to make sure we stop them from playing football. If we can set the right tempo, we can play a very good game."

Suggested Topics
News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam