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Balotelli wants 'to win as a protagonist' at Milan

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm •  Published: February 1, 2013

Galliani then interrupted to declare that Berlusconi never said such a thing.

"We are honored to have the national team's center forward," Galliani said. "We're bringing Balotelli back to the squad of his heart."

Balotelli added that he doesn't know Berlusconi yet and isn't interested in politics.

Balotelli spent a turbulent 2 1/2 years in English football since joining City from Inter in 2010, and his form has dipped this season as matters off the pitch continued to overshadow his talent on it.

He was asked if he was man enough now to keep the focus on his football.

"I'm already a man. Certainly you can always improve," Balotelli responded. "I want to stay here as long as possible."

Balotelli was Italy's standout player at the European Championship last year, memorably scoring both goals in the 2-1 win over Germany in the semifinals, but he hasn't had a performance anything close to that lately.

"Mario is a great kid, he just needs to understand how lucky he is to know how to play football, because a footballer's life passes in a hurry," Roberto Mancini, Balotelli's former manager at Inter and City, told Italian state radio earlier Friday. "Just think about (former Brazil and Inter striker) Adriano — he was the best player in the world, then in no time he disappeared."

Balotelli appeared especially excited about the prospect of playing alongside fellow Italy forward Stephen El Shaarawy, the 20-year-old who has scored 15 goals for Milan this season.

"The World Cup is a big objective for both me and Stephen," Balotelli said. "We've never played in one and we have the quality to do so."

Born to Ghanaian parents in Sicily before being raised by white foster parents, Balotelli was often the target of racist chants from opposing fans when he played with Inter. Racism in stadiums remains a problem in Italy, as evidenced when his new Milan teammates walked off the pitch last month during a friendly after racist chants were directed at midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng.

"Racism is very tough to fight," Balotelli said. "I really don't know how to defeat it. You need to keep firm and sooner or later we'll win."