Eric Cantona has praised Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli for being a rebel in an interview with Calciomercato.com – and compared him to Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Cantona earned himself a reputation as one of the great mavericks of Premier League football during his 6 year spell with Manchester United.
The outlandish forward landed himself an 8 month ban for kicking a Crystal Palace fan in 1995, but earned himself a place in the hearts of Manchester United supporters by leading the club to four Premier League titles and two FA Cups during the Red Devils dominant spell in the mid-90’s.
Balotelli meanwhile was part of the Manchester City team that pipped Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to the title last season, helping them claim their first league crown in 44 years.
The Italian appears to be a magnet for controversy at times, and has been involved in numerous bust-ups with Citizens boss Roberto Mancini.
Infamous stories about Balotelli include the striker letting fireworks off out the window of his own house, handing over thousands of pounds to homeless people in the street and helping a schoolboy stand up to a bully.
Despite his persona Balotelli’s talent is undeniable. He scored last night to help Italy claim a 3-1 win over Denmark, and earned a standing ovation for his performance in the process.
In the interview Cantona was asked what he defined a rebel as, to which he replied: “I think that a rebel is someone who is out of the box but, in so doing, brings home the important results.
“[Chilean general] Pinochet was a rebel, Fidel Castro also. Both have gone down in history for better or for worse. These are the rebels.”
When asked what he thought about Balotelli the Manchester United icon then replied: "Re-read what was said earlier on rebels and you'll see what I think of him”
Balotelli was in the news again last week after Manchester City chief Brian Marwood publicly criticised him for failing to be a good role model.
The Citizens forward hit back after Italy’s win over Denmark last night, and added he is more than happy at the Etihad Stadium working under Mancini.
"With Mancini all goes well, we have a good relationship even though someone always tries to put discord amongst us. We love each other," he told Rai Sport.