Italy striker Mario Balotelli scored a scorching, long-range goal to secure a 2-2 draw in his team’s friendly against Brazil on Thursday, but he revealed his father was less than impressed with his performance.
The AC Milan front man was in a rich vein of form heading into the international break, having scored seven goals in six Serie A matches since his switch from Manchester City, but missed a few gilt-edged chances in the clash despite scoring the crucial equaliser.
The 22-year-old revealed his parent’s berating of him and dismissed any suggestion he has an inflated ego, but admitted he thinks that opposition fans are gradually learning to like him.
Balotelli told reporters on Sunday ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Malta on Tuesday: “I spoke to my father after the Brazil draw and he told me off because I missed so many goals!
“I’ve never had a big head. I do not consider myself to be the best in the world, nor the worst. I am me and that is enough.
“Thanks to the Italy squad and especially the Euros, now fans of other clubs are starting to like me, too. I can see from the way they act around me.
“Now a big game awaits us in Malta and we want to do well because that game will mean a lot for our World Cup qualifying. Being with the Azzurri is something special, something more, and I am happy that the squad is getting younger.
“I have been maturing for a while, it’s just that before people couldn’t see my improvements.”
Roma legend Francesco Totti has been linked with a return to the Azzurri squad thanks to top performances in a Giallorossi shirt this campaign, and Balotelli said he would love to play with the forward though he is also more than happy alongside Milan striking partner Stephan El Shaarawy.
“It would be truly an honour to play with Totti, as he is a true phenomenon and champions like him are always welcome,” he added.
“Right now I am focused on this Azzurri experience, but afterwards I want to concentrate only on Milan.
“I’m happy to be Stephan El Shaarawy’s friend and team-mate, as we’re together almost all the time. I’m glad to have him in my life and will try to help him with anything he’ll need.”
Earlier this week, Balotelli’s Milan team-mate Kevin-Prince Boateng spoke at the United Nations about confronting racism and taking action on it - a stance that the attacker strongly supports.
“Racism makes me annoyed, angry and disappointed,” the ex-Etihad Stadium star continued. “Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be enough improvement in this area.
“I agree with Boateng’s speech at the UN: to eradicate racism, we all have to contribute together.”
Balotelli reiterated his recent revelation that the only regret he has in his life was a public rejection of former club Inter.
He said: “In my life I would only avoid doing one thing again: I wouldn’t have thrown the Inter jersey to the ground.”