I have no friends in England, claims frustrated Balotelli

Italian striker talks of his exasperation with press and his social concerns in heartfelt interview

A lonely young man, exasperated by the English press, who wants to become more involved in Italian social issues was the picture Mario Balotelli drew of himself in an extensive interview published yesterday.

The Manchester City striker confessed to having no close friends in his adopted city and said that if he left the Premier League it would be to return to Italy.

"I am 21 years old and I am a long way from home," he told L'Uomo Vogue. "In spite of all the profound differences between here and home I am pretty adaptable but I don't have any real friends here and if I have to move – whenever that is – then I'll choose Italy."

Though he claimed that the British press is obsessed by him, they have merely followed the path taken by journalists in Italy. In June, La Stampa reported his tour of a crime-ridden mafia estate "looking around wide-eyed as if it were Disneyworld". They did the same for his unannounced visit to a women's prison in Brescia.

However, Balotelli said he was particularly embarrassed by the Italian media's habit of quoting British tabloid reports as if they were fact. "I can never win with English journalists," he said. "If I buy a Fiat Uno, I read articles saying I am the type of guy who should be buying a Ferrari. If I choose the Ferrari, they write that I should keep my feet on the ground and buy a Fiat.

"If I laugh, I am not a serious person. If I don't laugh, I am a rich sulk who can't be motivated to do the most beautiful job in the world. Here, in England, the tabloid press writes about everything you do and they always exaggerate.

"But the one thing I can't stand is that in Italy the stupidities of the tabloids are picked up and amplified without anybody bothering to check."

Given that Jose Mourinho, the manager with whom he spectacularly fell out at Internazionale, has expressed a desire to return to England when he has finished with Real Madrid, it was probably politic for Balotelli to offer him an olive branch. "As a coach, Mourinho is among the best," said Balotelli who was rated "unmanageable" by the man who took Inter to the treble in 2010. "However, if I had to give my opinion, I would say it would be Roberto Mancini first and then Mourinho.

"A manager has to extract 100 per cent of a footballer's ability and Mancini is very skilled at doing that. But the treble was a conquest extracted from a great squad of players to whom I still feel a fond connection."

L'Uomo Vogue was one of Balotelli's great supporters when he was the victim of racist abuse at Inter, picturing him in an Italian flag on their front cover. His interest in politics, particularly racial politics, he said, was still strong. The murder of two Senegalese migrant workers by a far-right gunman in Florence last month moved him deeply. "If I can intervene in some social matters, then I will, so long as it's not turned into party politics because that's tough territory for me," he said. "I was very upset by that chilling racist murder in Florence.

"I don't play in Italy and I give interviews very rarely so I don't have the chance to put my point of view straight away. Perhaps if I had been back home I would have taken a public stand over what happened. But in some way or other, I still want to lend a hand."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works