Manchester City and Italy striker Mario Balotelli is aware of the opportunity that the Euro 2012 stage will offer him.
The forward does have his critics given the way he attracts the headlines for the wrong reasons, but he’s keen to be remembered for the right reasons this summer.
“The European Championship could be the chance of a lifetime for me,” he said at Coverciano on Wednesday afternoon.
“I want to be a winner out there, a player who entertains the crowd. Euro 2012 is something important for me.”
Balotelli is set to make the squad despite being omitted in the past for breaking Coach Cesare Prandelli’s code of ethics.
“I’m not affected by the responsibility that he puts on me,” he added. “Like Roberto Mancini, he has shown me his faith. I can’t wait to repay him for that. I don’t think I’ll ever leave him down to 10 men in a game.”
Prandelli started his reign in 2010 with hopes of fielding a striking combination of Antonio Cassano and Balotelli – two enigmatic yet talented individuals.
“I don’t know what links Cassano and myself,” the former Inter man stated. “We are very similar, we get on well – on and off the pith.
“When he wasn’t well [following heart surgery] I told him that I wouldn’t go to the Championship unless he did. I always told him that he would make it.
“This national team has a lot of strong players though. Cassano and myself are the not the best, we are just the most talked about.
“Antonio Di Natale , for example, is really good and I’d be happy to play out wide in order to give him space in the middle.”
Balotelli’s name has again been in the transfer rumour mill this week after City boss Mancini visited Rossoneri Vice-President Adriano Galliani.
“Cassano-Balotelli at Milan? I play for Manchester City. There has been no contact with Milan in these years. Thiago Silva ? We at City would certainly be stronger if he was signed…”
The youngster also responded to his critics who question his mentality. “I don’t care about the psychological aspect anymore, I’m bored of what people say. I need to improve tactically, to mature and score a lot of goals.
“They tend to exaggerate in England about what I do off the pitch. Those who know me are aware of what I am like.
“I don’t feel persecuted, but the media can be heavy at times. I feel sorry for my mum who may be left upset by certain things.”