Vieira - Mario ready to change
Balotelli urged to learn from mistakes and take on responsibility
Last Updated: June 23, 2012 12:51pm
Patrick Vieira: Believes Mario Balotelli has the potential to be a leader
Patrick Vieira believes Mario Balotelli has leadership potential but must now show that he has the maturity to accept help from Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini.
Balotelli's future at the club appeared in doubt towards the end of the season following a red card against Arsenal, but Mancini later welcomed him back into the fold and he played a key part in their title-winning push.
Vieira, City's football development executive, hopes Balotelli will remain at the club but admits that it is time for the 21-year-old to change his ways and behave more responsibly.
Having known Balotelli since their time together at Inter Milan, Vieira believes the striker has the strength of character to go with his ability and can silence his critics once and for all.
"Mario will be 22 in August and he has now reached the point in his life and his career where he has to learn from his mistakes and show that he is a man and no longer a boy," Vieira told the Daily Telegraph.
"Mario will be 22 in August and he has now reached the point in his life and his career where he has to learn from his mistakes and show that he is a man and no longer a boy."
Patrick Vieira Quotes of the week
"People will lose patience with you and get tired of helping if you do not improve your conduct or fail to learn from your mistakes.
"I think it can sometimes be difficult for Mario to accept criticism because, when people tell you that you are going to be the best, it can be hard to understand when you are on the wrong side of the critics.
"But I really feel that Mario is ready to accept help, however, and Roberto Mancini is also prepared to support him.
"Whether Mario stays at City is something only he and Roberto can decide, but I really hope that he does because he is a player with fantastic potential and somebody who has already proved his ability to score important goals for the team.
"I think we have also seen that Mario has the potential to be a leader and somebody with real character.
"Just watch him when he takes a penalty. He is so cool in that situation, but having the confidence to take the ball and put it on the penalty spot shows he is prepared to take responsibility and display leadership."
Balotelli is in contention to start for Italy against England in Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final and Vieira would love to see him get the nod.
The Frenchman added: "The best way to silence your critics and prove your ability is by performing on the pitch and he did that against Ireland.
"That is why I believe that he will start the game against England on Sunday. I certainly believe that he should start.
"He had a good chance against Spain which he should have scored and then had another game without scoring against Croatia, but in both games, he worked hard for his team.
"Italy manager Cesare Prandelli must decide whether to start Mario against England, but I think that his strengths ensure that he would make it difficult for John Terry and Joleon Lescott."