Mario Balotelli: 'I'm growing up'

Mario Balotelli: 'I'm growing up'
© PA Photos
Mario Balotelli insists that he has put his controversial image behind him.

Mario Balotelli has insisted that he has put his controversial image behind him and is relishing a new-found maturity.

The 21-year-old striker's behaviour has made the headlines since he joined Manchester City from Inter Milan last year for £24m.

Balotelli has been accused of showboating, throwing darts at youth team players and brawling at the training ground.

The Italy international now says, however, that he has learnt how to control his wild behaviour.

"This is down to me, because it's me that has changed my life," Balotelli said. "I don't live in town anymore. I'm outside now so it's more quiet. I try to stay at home more. Maybe I'll stay in now with my family, my brother or my girlfriend.

"They weren't here last year, they came sometimes but they were not based here. That's definitely helped.

"It's quieter now but also I am growing up. If, last year, I missed home so much, maybe now I miss it a little bit less. I'm OK now, I'm good. I'm happy - the only problem is the weather. Everything is getting better."

Balotelli is currently enjoying a run of four goals from four games and has not received a card so far this season.

"I'm getting better all the time," he added. "It's four goals in four games and I hope to God it will be five in five.

"It's the real Mario who is coming out now. It isn't the same Mario as last year."

Manchester City currently lead the Premier League table, with 22 points from eight games.

Mario Balotelli
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