BRENDAN RODGERS joked that Mario Balotelli was the best player he ever trained – and the player responded just a day later.
The Celtic gaffer was in good spirits at the club’s Player of the Year awards on Sunday night when he made the tongue-in-cheek claim.
During a Q and A the former Liverpool and Swansea boss was asked by a Hoops fan, who the best player he has coached was.
He laughed: “Mario Balotelli! He was a fantastic player.”
Rodgers has admitted he never wanted to bring the Italian to Liverpool, revealing he was signed by the club’s transfer committee.
The Hoops boss added: “As a manager who has worked with fantastic players throughout my career I would never say one individual because each club has its own personality and players.
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“The types of players, the iconic players, all I want to see is a player just maximising his talent.”
The remark sent the room of Celtic fans into hysterics, knowing the 26-year-old had an awful time at Anfield, scoring just one goals in one season at Liverpool before leaving for AC Milan.
He eventually went to Nice in French Ligue 1 on a permanent deal, where he has been in much better form with 14 goals in 18 starts.
And just a day after the jibe, a sarcastic Balotelli Tweeted his response, saying: “Brendan Rodgers you are also the best manager I ever had. Amazing,” complete with laughing emojis.
In fairness to Rodgers, he has done well since leaving Liverpool in 2015, joining Celtic last year where he has already won the Scottish Premiership, on course for the 100 points mark.
He also won the Scottish League Cup with the Bhoys in November, and guided them to the 2017 Scottish Cup final.