The Italy striker says criticism about his performances at the World Cup are unjustified and also responded to comments about his background
Italy striker Mario Balotelli has refused to take the blame for the Azzurri’s early elimination from the World Cup.
Cesare Prandelli’s side crashed out of Group D after winning just one of their games, a 2-1 victory over England in Manaus, as Costa Rica and Uruguay progressed from the group instead.
Balotelli scored one goal in the tournament – in the victory against the Three Lions – and also played the first period of Italy’s 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Tuesday before being substituted at half-time.
After the Italians were knocked out of the competition, the Milan striker was criticised for not living up to expectations in Brazil.
However, the 23-year-old insists that he has a “clear conscience” when it comes to his display and conduct at the World Cup, saying he was just as disappointed with his inability to lead the team past the group stages as everybody else.
“I am Mario Balotelli, I’m 23 and I haven’t chosen to be Italian,” Balotelli wrote on his official Instagram account.
“I’ve really wanted to be because I was born in Italy and I’ve always lived in Italy.
“I was really looking forward to this World Cup and I’m saddened, angry and disappointed with myself.
“Perhaps I could have scored against Costa Rica, yes you [the fans] were right, but then? What’s the problem then?
“I’m not going to bring it down on me just this time because Mario Balotelli has given everything to the national team and has not made a mistake [from a character standpoint].
“So find another excuse somewhere else because Mario Balotelli has a clear conscience and is ready to move on stronger than ever.”
He added: “I am proud to have given everything for my country.”
The striker, who has Ghanaian heritage, also responded to criticism surrounding his background when he said: “Perhaps, as some of you say, I’m not really Italian.
“The Africans wouldn’t have blamed one of their brothers. Never. In this, we black, as you call us, we are light years ahead of you.
“Disgrace is not someone who misses a goal or runs less or more. These things are disgraceful [unfair criticism].”
Meanwhile, Milan CEO Adriano Galliani backed Balotelli and insisted that negative attention should be aimed at all of the Italy team – not just at the 23-year-old.
“I only have one thing to say: I don’t understand why all criticism seems to be focused on Mario Balotelli, the only forward who actually scored a goal, the only one who created chances,” Galliani said.
“The others, as far as I’m concerned, didn’t do much. It looks like it was only Balotelli who was eliminated, I don’t understand.
“I really can’t figure out why, so I won’t comment any further. I’ve just noticed that all criticism is against Balotelli. Apparently he’s the only football player that is playing for Italy.”