Roberto Mancini told Italian television that Euro 2012 can change Mario Balotelli and Manchester City had been ready to give up. “He even celebrated!”
The striker took Italy into the Final against Spain thanks to his sensational brace in a 2-1 victory over Germany on Thursday night.
“I hoped he would be consecrated at the Euros, because nobody can doubt his talents, even if at times he does things on the pitch that he shouldn’t,” City manager Mancini told Sky Sport Italia.
“He has enormous qualities and I hope the Germany game can prove a turning point for him. We exchanged some text messages after the game and Mario was very happy. He even celebrated!”
Cesare Prandelli took a risk by focusing so much of the Azzurri’s attack on 21-year-old Balotelli, while Mancini always tried to defend the errant striker in Manchester.
“All the Coaches he worked with helped him to improve, from his very first to Prandelli today. He gave a great deal against Germany and worked for the team.
“Mario knows I always tried to help him. At times I treated him badly, at times better, while sometimes I had no idea what else to do!
“When you talk to Mario, he’s such a good kid that you can’t not help him. You cannot waste a talent like this.”
Yet Mancini admits there was a time after the red card and unseen potential leg-breaker tackle on Arsenal’s Alex Song that he was ready to give up on SuperMario.
“After Arsenal I said ‘enough,’ but then the ban was not that heavy. At the time I didn’t know whether to keep him or not, even down to the final match of the season, but he always knows how to change a game.
“Did Mario ever ask to leave? No, as they love him at City even more than they did at Inter. In Manchester he is hailed as a star and knows he works in an environment where he can do anything.
“He is young, the years go by quickly, but if he wants to be the best in the world then he has the opportunities now.
“Prandelli benched Mario at the start of the Euros because he wasn’t very sharp at that stage. Besides, at times it does Balotelli good to put him on the bench, as that can motivate him and the moment you throw him on to the field...
“Mario has an excellent rapport with everyone at Manchester City, though more with the Latin players than the English, as at times they don’t understand his behaviour.
“Everyone knows Balo is a good lad, but every week he’s in the newspapers! Once he was caught at a nightclub at 3am in full view of everyone.
“I always tell him if he’s going to do something that he probably shouldn’t, then at least do it properly without being caught! In England they follow him everywhere because they know he gives them pages and pages of stories.”