Tuesday March 6 2012
Balotelli in love with Italy shirt

Mario Balotelli has underlined that he wants to be a key player for Italy at the 2012 European Championships.

The Manchester City striker made that clear in an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday – just a week after he was again omitted from the Azzurri squad.

Balotelli was left out by boss Cesare Prandelli as punishment for his dismissal in January’s game against Tottenham.

“The European Championship is something that I think about often,” he stated after Italy lost 1-0 to America without him.

“I was disappointed to have not been called up for the friendly in Genoa. There is a code of ethics that I respect, even if I think that I didn’t deserve to be excluded.

“It left me upset because, for me, there is no shirt more fascinating than that of the national side because of the emotions that I feel when I represent Italy.”

Balotelli annoyed the Italy boss for appearing to stamp on Scott Parker in that Premier League match at the start of the New Year.

“The slow motion replays suggest that I struck him on purpose, but I didn’t,” Balotelli argued after explaining that he has sent Prandelli a text message. “That wasn’t the case.

“No one protested, perhaps I didn’t even touch him, but I do not kick people who are on the ground.

“City didn’t want to risk an appeal as although I would have played against Liverpool, I could have been banned for five matches had we lost the appeal.

“It wasn’t a case of City boss Roberto Mancini not believing me.”

The 21-year-old used the interview to praise the English game, but he did admit that the Premier League was still lacking a true star.

“There is no one in England who is better than Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” he said of his former Inter teammate who is now at Milan. “It is only when I talk with Ibra that I tell him that I’m better than he is.

“I agree with Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri who says that Ibra, alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, is one of the three best players in the world.

“I would like to see Ibrahimovic win the Champions League with Milan this season. He hasn’t lifted that trophy yet, but he deserves to.”

Balotelli also highlighted the ability of Roma striker Fabio Borini, the 20-year-old who was handed his Italy debut at Marassi last Wednesday.

“Borini is my favourite youngster coming through and, after playing alongside him in the Under-21s, I can assure you that he is a really strong player.”