Italy striker Mario Balotelli delivered an unusual address to the media on the eve of the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final with England, claiming he was "more of a man than Peter Pan." The Manchester City forward is in contention to start against England after coming off the bench to score against the Republic of Ireland on Monday.
There was no shock today when Balotelli stressed his determination to get the better of team-mates Joe Hart, James Milner and Joleon Lescott in the Kiev meeting at the Olympic Stadium. But some of the answers when bombarded by questions from the Italian media were off the wall and led to bouts of laughter.
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 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."
Balotelli was also asked if he was going to demonstrate to England if there was "a stupid Balotelli or a super Balotelli" after showing his prowess with the late goal against the Irish. He added: "I don't think Mario the person needs to demonstrate this to anyone because those who know me know exactly what I'm like."
"It was an important goal I scored against Ireland because I hadn't got on the scoresheet in the past two games. You said I was having a problem putting the ball in the net but I didn't have any psychological problems. There is no mental block there at all."
Balotelli also insists he has no issue with his team-mates despite becoming frustrated at failing to score before his hooked volley against Ireland. He said: "The national side has always meant a lot to me since when I was a kid. That is normal. In the first few games I was very emotional because it was my first European Championships so that is normal.
"I was bit worked up because I hadn't scored a goal.I wasn't angry, I didn't have problems with the squad. I'm fine. The only thing was that I didn't score a goal."
Balotelli is also determined to get the better of his City team-mates Milner, Hart and Lescott in tomorrow evening's encounter. He said: "I hope it will be a good match and it will be fun playing against my Manchester City team-mates.
"They know me and I know them. I just hope it is going to be fun but I want to win even if they are my team-mates and put in a good performance and I hope they will lose. All the players at Manchester City in the England side are my friends, Milner, Hart, Lescott. I hope we win the game and I mean it with all my heart and soul."
Italian midfield Thiago Motta is available to face England after recovering from a muscle injury and being able to train.