Balotelli can't make excuses – Maldini

The AC Milan great says youthful exuberance is no longer an excuse for Italy striker’s wayward behaviour and that he must start producing on a consistent basis

Paolo Maldini has told Mario Balotelli he is now at an age where he should be mature enough to rise above the behavioural troubles that have plagued his career.

The striker scored the winner as Italy beat England 2-1 on Saturday, with many backing the AC Milan player to at last perform on a consistent basis and develop into the star he has long been tipped to become.

Balotelli has never been far from trouble during spells at Inter, Manchester City and Milan, and Maldini says now is the time for the 23-year-old to show he has learned from his mistakes.

The Milan great told Gazzetta dello Sport: “He has played a lot and a lack of experience can no longer be an excuse.

“I hope that he has found the peace of mind that he needs and that he becomes an important player on the field.

“He is now at an age where he should be mature. There is nothing better than a World Cup to become a real man and a real player and to consecrate his talent.”

Off the field, Balotelli has at least showed signs of emotional maturity after announcing his engagement to girlfriend Fanny Neguesha.

He proposed to the Belgian model at Italy’s training camp last week before revealing the news via his personal Instagram account.

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