The Italian striker chats about Ferraris, racism, and his new pet pig.
(Photo: Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013)
Mario Balotelli has, at 23, already won championships in Italy and England as well as a Champions League trophy. He's also no stranger to controversy; he has driven into a woman's prison, been escorted around the town by the Italian Mafia, and had the fire department summoned to his house after lighting off fireworks in his bathroom.
One of a handful of sportsmen to be featured in TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world and the cover star - love him or hate him it is impossible to ignore him. Fresh off his appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Balotelli chatted with us about his wild world.
What are your ambitions with Milan this year?
To be successful in Italy and in Europe. Milan has a history of being successful in Champions League – and we have a squad of players that is ready to challenge any team this season.
Next year is the World Cup - are you confident Italy can be victorious?
We are contenders, there is no doubt about it. There are some talented nations at the moment – but Italy has a good mix of experience and young talent. We will be going to Brazil to win and nothing else.
You have been quite vocal about saying you believe you will be the world's best player – what do you think you need to do to get there?
I just need to keep working hard. At the moment I only see Messi above me – but that can change. I know I have everything a player needs to be the best in the world.
You are known for buying crazy things - what's the strangest thing you have ever bought?
There is a famous story from my time in England. My mother sent me out shopping to buy stuff like an iron and vacuum, as we had nothing for our new house in Manchester. I came back in a truck a few hours later with two Vespas, a remote control car, a trampoline, and a table tennis table. The worst thing was that I had forgotten the iron.
You just got a pet pig. What made you do that? Where does it sleep?
She is so cute – I love her. We are sure it is a "her" now – because nothing has grown between her legs. She has a really nice bed in the house – she is part of the family.
You are always driving amazing cars - what's your favorite?
I have had some great cars – but there is nothing like driving a Ferrari. I have a beautiful Ferrari F12 Berlinetta at the moment – which I love driving around Milan. I parked it last month and kids covered it in toilet paper. I wasn’t angry though – I probably would have done the same as a kid.
Did you really give a homeless guy £1000? How did he react?
It is true that I helped a guy out who needed it – but the amount is not true and is private between me and the guy.
Are all the crazy things we read about you true?
No, not all things are true. Some are true, some are exaggerated, and some are just false. The media know that people like to read about Mario though – they don’t care if what they print is true or not – as long as it is about Mario.
The pope recently told you to be an example – do you feel like you are, or can be?
I think that I can show that with maturity you can change. I have done some crazy stuff – but I was a young guy.
You are a strong believer that racism is still a big problem in football. How can that be remedied?
The problem with racist people is they are stupid people. It is very difficult to change stupid people. We must make sure we never run away. Some players will walk off the field if they are getting racially abused – but these stupid people will never get me to walk off.
Along with President Barack Obama you were voted among the top 100 most influential people in the world - you are a big fan of the current U.S. President, right?
I am a big fan – because he represented change. The USA is a forward-thinking country – and seeing a black man as the most important man in the world is a message of hope for countries where a black man in charge is still only a dream.
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