ROME (AP) — Mario Balotelli has expressed astonishment at the reaction to an argument he had with some Italian football pundits after a game on Friday.
Following AC Milan's 2-0 loss to Roma, Balotelli had a tense exchange with the Sky Italia TV studio hosts. Balotelli said: "When Milan wins Mario is great, when it loses Mario is bad." Told by one studio host that he doesn't move enough on the pitch, Balotelli responded: "You don't know anything about football. Trust me."
His comments provoked plenty of reaction both supportive and critical, and Balotelli responded on Twitter around 4 a.m. local time on Saturday morning, saying in Italian: "Mamma mia I divide Italy in 2! Wow! While nearly everyone abroad is united with me!"
Then he added in English: "What a strange game." Balotelli, whose career had been littered with controversies and clashes with both coaches and teammates, was largely ineffective against Roma and he was substituted in the 69th minute.
As Balotelli walked off, he appeared to question coach Clarence Seedorf's decision to remove him. "I didn't understand my substitution," Balotelli said in the interview. Told that he doesn't criticize himself enough, Balotelli said "I'm a very normal player. It's you who says I'm a standout."
Balotelli is having a strong season and set a personal record last week with his 14th goal of the campaign. "I chose to take off Balotelli, but when he came off he didn't say anything special to me," Seedorf said. "We shouldn't always analyze every detail, when there is something negative to say about Balo, you are always ready. There are things said and done in the heat of the moment, but then it's talked about and resolved.
"He's coming off the back of many positive weeks, both with goals and with his behavior." Balotelli has a history of being in the headlines as much for his antics off the pitch as his talent on it. He made light of his troubles in 2011 when he was with Manchester City by unveiling a T-shirt with the slogan "Why Always Me?" during a 6-1 rout of Manchester United in a Premier League derby. That came after reports that a fire had broken out at his house when fireworks were let off in his bathroom.
Balotelli escaped punishment earlier in 2011 after throwing a dart at a City youth-team player. No one was hurt in the incident.