Mice forward Mario Balotelli has aimed a thinly-veiled criticism at supporters of Manchester City and Liverpool by suggesting they were not ‘always behind’ their players like fans on the French south coast.
The polarising Italian enjoyed two spells in England, both of which were plagued by controversy on and off the field.
He is currently plying his trade in Ligue 1, where his Nice side are hovering only a point above the relegation zone following defeat by Strasbourg on Sunday.
Despite the club’s current predicament, however, Balotelli claims the club’s supporters have always stuck by them – a luxury he hasn’t been afforded elsewhere.
‘At my former clubs, a situation like ours would never have gone down so well,’ he told French paper Nice Matin.
‘There, against Strasbourg, we played very badly and lost a match that we never should have lost, the supporters were always behind us, singing, applauding. To have support like that, it’s magnificent.’
Whether it be strolling around a women’s prison or failing to put on a bib, Balotelli has become notorious for his bizarre antics both on and off the field.
He has been involved in training ground bust ups and felt the wrath of unhappy supporters during his polarising career.
But Balotelli has now lifted the lid on why he has acted in such occasionally-controversial fashion. The forward claims that he is authentic at all times because he wants supporters to know who he really is.
‘It was important that I express myself for the supporters to know my real personality, and the man that I am,’ he said.
‘What annoys me, are the critics on the personal level, or the human level. With football, it doesn’t get to me. The times I am rubbish on Sunday, Monday I discuss with the coach what was wrong, what I have to do or not do…
‘I know if I have been good or not, I don’t need to read the newspaper to know that. And if I have played badly, I can catch up and train hard Monday through Friday to be good for the next Sunday.
‘It’s not that the opinion of others does not interest me, but for me, the only way of progressing, it is through work. The critics don’t like me, but they exist and I accept them. They are part of the job, if you don’t accept them then you have to change sports, or even work.’