'I know how to control my mind' – Balotelli reveals secret behind penalty success

Mario Balotelli has revealed the secret behind his 100 per cent penalty record for Manchester City.

The eccentric Italian striker believes that it is his mental strength which allows him to win the psychological battle against the opposing goalkeeper.

He told Time Magazine: “It’s just like a game of the mind, between me and the goalkeeper.

“Me, I know how to control my mind. When the keeper moves before me, it means that in this game of the mind he has lost.”
With racism dominating the off-pitch agenda in the past months, Balotelli observed that it is a problem rooted in ignorance.

“Racist people are few, in the minority, but you can do nothing to change them,” the forward observed. “You can talk, you can do what you want, but you can’t do anything because they are just stupid people.

“When I wasn’t famous, I had a lot of friends, almost all of them were Italian. The racism only started when I started to play football.

“But me, personally, I hope I can help Italy to be a modern country, like England or America.”

Balotelli also spoke about his bond with manager Roberto Mancini, whom he followed from Inter to Manchester City.

“My relationship with Mancini is really important. He’s known me since I was young and he’s like a father to me,” the 22-year-old explained.

“I used to play with the young children at Inter, so I know him very well and I can tell him anything.

“I have to train hard every training session and give ­everything on the pitch. You have four or five things that the manager asks you to do, then you have to play like you can play and give everything.”

Count Balotelli does his fang for Manchester City

Mario Balotelli often scares the life out of Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini with his off-the-field antics.

But the 22-year-old has now had his alter-ego made public, when Vincent Kompany tweeted this picture of him posing with Count Dracula-esque mouth-wear.

The Belgian added this message: “I guess that would be Dracula and ermmm… Let me beat you to it. Frankenstein!! Haha ?#MCFC?”

With City travelling to Upton Park to meet West Ham on Saturday, Roberto Mancini will be hoping the Italian forward can be a pain in the neck to the opposing defenders, and certainly not produce a horror show.

Prandelli hails Italian presence in Ballon d'Or candidates

Cesare Prandelli has spoken of his pride at seeing three of his Italy players listed as candidates for the 2012 Ballon d’Or.

Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo were nominated in the 23-man list for the annual Fifa award following their exploits in helping Juventus lift the Serie A title last season, along with Mario Balotelli, whose 13 Premier League goals helped fire Manchester City towards becoming English champions.

However, the trio have also been recognised for their roles in the Azzurri‘s run to the final of Euro 2012, and the national team boss congratulated his squad members for both their inclusion in the preliminary selection and the boost it has given football in the country.

“It is great news for the whole of Italian football,” Prandelli told reporters. “It is recognition that gives us great optimism for the future.

“It is brilliant to have three candidates for the Ballon d’Or.”

Balotelli does not 'give a damn' about Marwood comments

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is happy with life at the club despite football administrator Brian Marwood advising the club’s youth players to ignore the striker as a role model.

Marwood picked out several key players like Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart as ideal examples, but alluded to Balotelli as one who fails to represent the proper values of the club.

“We have a lot of players who think and behave in the right way. You have to make sure they’re the right role models,” he told reporters.

“I think, and we all know who you’re talking about, you’ll always get people within the system that will not show those values and behaviours, but in the main I think we have a fantastic group of players.”

Balotelli, speaking after his goal and performance helped Italy to a 3-1 World Cup qualifying win against Denmark on Tuesday, insists that all is fine for him in Manchester, going as far as to say his relationship with Mancini is more serious than some think.

“I am fine at City, even though there are people who like to talk in the newspapers, instead of saying certain things to my face. I do not give a damn,” he told Italian TV channel Rai.

“With Mancini, all goes well. We have a good relationship, even though someone always tries to pull discord among us. We love each other.”

Balotelli is beginning to mature, says Prandelli

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli believes that Mario Balotelli is showing signs of maturity as an international forward.

The explosive striker was on target as Italy extended their lead at the top of World Cup qualifying Group B by beating Denmark 3-1.

And his national boss is confident that the Manchester City player can be a huge weapon for Italy and urged the 22-year-old to keep up the good work.

“He has understood what he has to do for Italy,” Prandelli told reporters after Italy’s triumph over Morten Olsen’s side.

“I say that from now on the Balotelli in an Azzurri jersey has to be the one we saw at San Siro against the Danes.”

Balotelli has often been criticised for his lack of commitment or temperament, but Prandelli insists that he is not a liability.

“When I talk about Balotelli, I do not like the suggestion he is a gamble, but the moment has certainly come for him to take his share of responsibility in an Italy shirt,” he continued.

“I want a national team that is always targeting improvement, even if I’d like to have more time to try out some young players.”