Mario more man than Peter Pan
One of football's enigmatic figures Mario Balotelli has claimed he is 'more of a man than Peter Pan' ahead of Sunday's Euro 2012 showdown.
Last Updated: 23/06/12 8:18pm
One of football's most enigmatic figures Mario Balotelli has claimed he is 'more of a man than Peter Pan' ahead of Sunday's Euro 2012 showdown against England.
The Manchester City forward is in contention to start against Roy Hodgson's side after coming off the bench to score against the Republic of Ireland on Monday.
Balotelli was asked to discuss the claims of his agent that he is the Peter Pan of Italian football, which came in the wake of team-mate Daniele de Rossi admitting he thought Balotelli was growing up.
He said: "These are two metaphors for Mario the person not Mario the footballer.
"I think I'm a man but I don't think I need to say it. Mino (Raiola) said I'm Peter Pan because he wants to make people laugh.
"But I could be Peter Pan because I do things my own way and I'm a bit free.
"I could be Peter Pan but I think I'm more of a man than Peter Pan."
The 21-year-old stressed his determination to get the better of club team-mates Joe Hart, James Milner and Joleon Lescott in the Kiev meeting at the Olympic Stadium.
"I hope it's going to be a good match and I think it will be fun to play against my team-mates," he added.
"They know me and I know them, I just hope it's going to be nice and fun. I don't expect anything, I hope we win because I want to win and even though they're team-mates, I hope they lose.
"I don't have to show anything to anyone, not to England, not to Italy and not to anyone.
"I'm not a Super Mario or a Stupid Mario, I'm just Mario and those who know me, know who I (really) am.
"It was important for me to score because I had been trying to do that in the previous two games but hadn't managed it.
"But it's not a case of the handbrake being off now, I scored a goal and that can happen."
While traditionally England are known for their passion and commitment, head coach Cesare Prandelli has been more impressed with their tactical alignment under Roy Hodgson, who coached in Italy previously in his career.
"We're prepared, we've studied England and discovered that they're one of the most organised European teams, more so than others who have this reputation.
"They average 38-39 metres between the lines (the distance from defenders to attackers) so we'll have to break up their rhythm.
"We'll have to match their intensity but I'm convinced that if we can play with tempo then we can play a great match."