A lonely young man, exasperated by the English press, who wants to become more involved in Italian social issues -- that was the picture Mario Balotelli drew of himself in an extensive interview published yesterday.
The Manchester City striker confessed to having no close friends in his adopted city and said that if he left the Premier League it would be to return to Italy.
"I am 21 years old and I am a long way from home," he told 'L'Uomo Vogue'. "In spite of all the profound differences between here and home I am pretty adaptable, but I don't have any real friends here and if I have to move -- whenever that is -- then I'll choose Italy."
Though he claimed that the English press is obsessed by him, they have merely followed the path taken by journalists in Italy. In June, 'La Stampa' reported his tour of a crime-ridden mafia estate "looking around wide-eyed as if it were Disneyworld". They did the same for his unannounced visit to a women's prison in Brescia.
But Balotelli said he was particularly embarrassed by the Italian media's habit of quoting British tabloid reports as if they were fact. "I can never win with English journalists," he said. "If I buy a Fiat Uno, I read articles saying I am the type of guy who should be buying a Ferrari. If I choose the Ferrari, they write that I should keep my feet on the ground.
"If I laugh, I am not a serious person. If I don't laugh, I am a rich sulk who can't be motivated to do the most beautiful job in the world.
"But the one thing I can't stand is that in Italy the stupidities of the tabloids are picked up and amplified without anybody bothering to check." (© Independent News Service)