On Tuesday evening Italy crashed out of the World Cup, losing to Uruguay 1-0. When they needed players to keep their heads they crumbled under the pressure and so did there star man, Mario Balotelli.
There is no questioning Balotelli's talent on the football pitch. The striker is strong, dominant and able to create a chance out of nothing as seen against England in the opening group game of this summer's World Cup. But something lacks in this 23-year-old which will stop him going all the way and it is a quality that only a very few players can get away with not having.
We've seen funny pictures of the Italian not warming up while his other teammates are, and sitting up while other teammates, who can't even get in the team, push themselves to the limit to sit on the bench. It is all fun and games at the end of the day many people say, but on Tuesday you could say he cost him further qualification in this year's World Cup, having already known a yellow card would see him suspended for the next game, if Italy qualified.
Balotelli got booked, causing him to be subbed by former head coach Cesare Prandelli so no further damage could be done. Claudio Marchisio then received a straight red card and Diego Godin headed Uruguay through. Let's hoping they are still laughing at the jokes in training.
He may be let off by the fact he is in his early 20s and that he is loving life doing what every 23-year-old would do in his situation, but there are plenty of players aged under 23 who can do what he does, but tend leave their talking and imagination to the pitch, where it really matters.
Even against Costa Rica, before the game Balotelli stated he wanted to kiss the Queen of England if Italy beat the nation, which would have helped England get through the group. Yet in the game he was wasteful and could have easily scored two goals before losing his nerve and preferring not to try for the rest of the game.
Playing as Italy's only striker he has key role and it seems Balotelli doesn't take it seriously, having scored one goal in three games. The only time he's been in the mood for causing problems was against Germany in the European Championships in 2012.
There is no question he is still Italy's best striker at the moment, having scored 14 goals in 30 games for AC Milan last season in the Serie A, but he can't keep taking risks.
There will be a time when the new Italian manager will decide whether the mentality of Balotelli will interfere with a result, forcing him to field another player. He is his own individual, and prefers playing for himself rather than the team's outcome, it is clear to see. But the only thing that needs to change about him is his attitude, because at this point he won't become the brilliant player he can be, he'll only be a costly player who will owe Italy and his club disappointment.
It is true that Balotelli will be remembered for generations but maybe for the wrong reasons, and he could influence people for the wrong reasons with his lack of motivation and work rate. He has still got a lot to learn, there is no questioning his ability, just whether his mentality can keep him in check and help him achieve his destined status.
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