Mario Balotelli has moved across Europe courting controversy wherever he has played.
Yet the former Manchester City man believes he would have already been “forgiven” for his misdemeanours and played for Italy more had he been white.
The Italian striker became known a “a nuisance” during his spell at City and was a misfit who couldn’t settle down into his game at AC Milan or Liverpool.
But Balotelli, still only 27, told French publication So Foot:
“I think that if I had been white, I’d have had fewer problems. Perhaps I did cause some of my own problems and had the wrong attitude at times, but would I have been forgiven quicker?
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It all started so well for Balotelli with a two-goal blast against Germany in the semi-final of Euro 2012.
Over the next two years, Balotelli – the first black player to represent Italy at a major international tournament- played 17 games for the Azzurri.
He boasted a decent scoring return of eight goals but has not played for Italy since.
Now playing with Nice, Balotelli says he doesn’t believe Italy is an inherently racist nation, although “it does have some racists in it.”
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And he’s not so keen on some aspects of the country’s constitution.
He said: “Even if I am Italian, born and raised in Italy, the law states I only became Italian once I reached the age of 18.
SOME CRAZY MOMENTS FROM THE WORLD OF MARIO BALOTELLI
March 2011 – He “pranked” Manchester City youth players by throwing darts at them.
April 2011 – Balotelli was pulled over police who found aroiund £20,000 sitting in the front seat. The same month he gave a homeless guy £20,000 after winning at a casino.
May 2011 – A little boy on the street told Mario he was being picked on, so Balotelli went to his school and confronted the bully.
October 2011 – He burned down his bathroom after shooting fireworks from his window. Baltelli then revealed a confusing ‘Why Always Me’ shirt after scoring against Manchester United.
October 11 – Mario’s mum sent him to John Lewis to buy an iron, a mop and a Hoover. A few hours later, Mario’s car pulled up with a van behind – which promptly unloaded a giant trampoline, two Vespa scooters and no cleaning products Always Me’ shirt after scoring against Manchester United.
January 2012 – Balotelli stomped on Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker’s head.
“The law is wrong and that is perhaps why to this day some people see black as the colour of diversity, of inferiority of an error in the middle of a team photograph.”
At Nice, Balotelli has rediscovered his goal-scoring form.
Although some would argue that the standard of football in France isn’t the greatest, Italy’s current struggles suggest they could do with recalling him.
Certainly managerial candidate Claudio Ranieri thinks so.
The former Leicester City title-winning boss said: “In France, Balotelli makes a difference, he now needs to be tested to see if the boy has matured in all respects.”