Friday November 11 2011
Riva told Balotelli to speak

Italian legend Gigi Riva has revealed that it was his idea for Mario Balotelli to face the media this week.

Balotelli was questioned by journalists at the Azzurri’s Coverciano training base where he covered a variety of subjects.

“I saw him one day at lunch and I told him that it was perhaps the right time for him to speak to the Press,” the Italian national team official told Sky Sport Italia.

“I said that there was a good breeze in his direction and that there was a need for a new protagonist in the absence of Antonio Cassano.

“He said: ‘If you say that this is the right time then I’ll do it.’

“He’s a very good kid with us. He laughs, jokes and plays. He’s not one of those guys who causes trouble every now and again.”

Manchester City’s Balotelli will start for Italy in today’s friendly with Poland given the absence of Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi.

Both forwards are likely to be sidelined for the next six months for differing reasons. The Milan man has just had heart surgery, while the Villarreal ace is recovering from a knee operation.

Cagliari legend Riva is Italy’s all-time top scorer thanks to his 35 strikes in 42 games.

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