Milan and Italy pay attention, for James Milner has revealed the secret to keeping Mario Balotelli out of trouble. “It was like having a 12-year-old in the dressing room.”
Balotelli hit the headlines repeatedly for his antics at Manchester City, such as throwing darts at youth players and accidentally setting fire to his house by letting off fireworks in the bathroom.
“I do miss him, actually,” said Milner. “He was crazy, he liked to be the centre of attention and it was like having a 12-year-old in the dressing-room at times.
“But he was a good guy, he was harmless and I hope he does well in Milan. He’s got ability and hopefully he can prove it over in Italy.
“You’d get those days where you’d think ‘Mario – not today, leave it out,’ but it was very hard to hate him, despite the crazy things he did.
“At times Mario would step out of line and one of the lads would tell him. If he ever did that, it would go off, but half-an-hour later he would come in and apologise.”
Former Manchester City teammate Milner revealed the secret to calming the Balotelli hurricane – distraction.
“You had to keep him busy. We did a Christmas event for some children at the ground and Mario had to wait about half-an-hour to do his bit.
“We were thinking ‘what can we do with him? He’s going to be an absolute nightmare.’ He ended up sitting in on an interview with Joe Hart for 20 minutes, then someone gave him an iPad to play Angry Birds on.
“You had to keep him occupied until it was his turn to meet the kids, but once he did he was great with them.”