Seedorf: Wondergoal proves Balotelli's mental strength

The Italy striker put a difficult week behind him with a sensational strike at San Siro and his Dutch coach insists the player can “become a champion” in the future

AC Milan boss Clarence Seedorf was unsurprised by Mario Balotelli’s stunning winner in his side’s 1-0 victory over Bologna on Friday.

The Italy international earned his side three precious points with a sensational 40-yard strike in the 86th minute of an otherwise dour Serie A clash at San Siro, with his coach arguing that the goal merely served to underline the forward’s remarkable faith in his own ability.

“It’s the kind of goal Mario knows how to score, as he has these weapons in his armoury,” Seedorf told Sky Sport Italia.

“The great thing is that the team continues to believe in the result, as you don’t score goals like that unless you believe in yourself.”

The goal came during a week in which Seedorf, whose side are now 10th in the league, said that Balotelli still had work to do to be considered a “champion” in the game – and just six days after the 23-year-old broke down in tears after being subbed in a 3-1 defeat at Napoli.

But the Dutchman insists that he has never doubted that the former Manchester City man will prove himself a top player.

“People like to take my words out of context. I didn’t say Mario isn’t a champion, but that he will become a champion. I believe in him a great deal and I believe in the man he is becoming,” Seedorf stated.

“I only think positive things towards him. What position do I like him best in? I like Balotelli, full stop. He can play on the right or the left.”

Seedorf praised his team’s fight against Bologna, but expects Atletico Madrid to pose an entirely different challenge when they visit San Siro on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

“The team fought hard. It wasn’t a great game, but it’s not easy when your opponents sit and wait for 90 minutes. Atletico do not play the same way as Bologna, who defend very deep,” he said.

“Michael Essien has to play against Atletico, so I decided not to risk him tonight [Friday].”

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