Mario Balotelli is in the Time list of 100 most influential people for 2013 as an ‘Icon,’ with Gianfranco Zola writing his dedication entry. “People think he’s a madman, but he isn’t.”
The story had been reported last month, but has only become official today when Time released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Italy and Milan striker Balotelli is included under the section marked ‘Icons’ along with the likes of Aung San Suu Kyi, Michelle Obama, Daniel Day-Lewis and Beyoncé.
“Mario has all the qualities to be a top player: power and athleticism, alongside a good understanding of the game — all positive,” wrote Watford manager Zola in Time magazine.
“I worked with Mario for a short period with Italy’s Under-21 side. I liked him straight away. I liked the way he handled himself and his composure and calmness in situations. Mario could shrug off things happening around him. Only the big players have that calm.
“Mario can play the big games and handle the crucial moments, but he needs to keep control. That is vital for him.
“From afar, people may think he’s a madman, but he isn’t. Mario is a lovely guy, very humble and very funny. I can assure people he has always been a pleasure to deal with.
“He has returned to Italy from England as the main man with lots of attention. Now he has to ensure he keeps control and keeps focus. Mario loves the pressure, but to succeed, it is about finding balance.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's World Cup tipster competition - £10,000 to be won!