Balotelli: ‘Italy snub hurt me’

by | Jun 3, 2018 15:53

Mario Balotelli admits it “hurt” to be left out of the Italy squad for four years and he cares more about other black Italians than his own experiences with racism.

A friendly with the Netherlands kicks off on Monday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT) in Turin, following on from the 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia (with Balo on target) and 3-1 defeat to France.

Before Roberto Mancini took over and returned SuperMario to the Azzurri, his last Italy appearance was at the 2014 World Cup.

Mario Balotelli admits it “hurt” to be left out of the Italy squad for four years and he cares more about other black Italians than his own experiences with racism.

A friendly with the Netherlands kicks off on Monday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT) in Turin, following on from the 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia (with Balo on target) and 3-1 defeat to France.

Before Roberto Mancini took over and returned SuperMario to the Azzurri, his last Italy appearance was at the 2014 World Cup.

“I was upset without the Nazionale,” confessed Balotelli in his Press conference.

“There’s no point talking about the past now, as we have to start again and look to the future. It’s disappointing I wasn’t even considered, but there’s no good thinking about that now.

“Antonio Conte was right not to call me up during Euro 2016, because physically I was not in good shape. Giampiero Ventura spoke to me about why I wasn’t called up, but I didn’t really understand his reasoning. I respect his choices.

“I have a rough idea on why he didn’t call me, but I’ll keep that to myself.”

Some fans have been calling for his inclusion for years, whereas others made a racist banner during the Saudi game insisting he was not ‘Italian.’

“It’s difficult to talk about people who don’t like me. I’ve always known of the affection of those close to me. Not everyone can understand you fully. I’ve always focused on those who have helped me and at a time like this, I want to thank them.

“The banner is part of a complicated issue, one I experienced since I was a child. I don’t know today if it is real racism or jealousy. It does hurt, and it’s about time Italy becomes like France and England. As I wrote on social media, it’s time to wake up.”

Balotelli was almost given the captain’s armband against France on Friday, but Leonardo Bonucci started and has more international caps.

“I don’t think being captain would make much difference, because I am in the Nazionale to score goals. I can set an example even without the armband. I do think it’d be a strong signal to the other African immigrants in Italy and their kids.

“I want my presence to be something positive for the squad. I have settled in well and we are a nice, united group.”

His contract with Nice is due to expire after two years and he is linked with Olympique Marseille, but why no return to Serie A?

“Because Mino (Raiola) asks for too much money!” smiled SuperMario.

“I said in the past that it’s my dream to win the Ballon d’Or and I’ll never give up on my dreams. It doesn’t hurt to dream.”

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