March 16, 2013
Mario Balotelli scored his fifth goal of the season in AC Milan's last match, a 2-0 victory over Genoa.
Antonio Calanni/AP

MILAN (AP) -- AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli has talked about his will to become the greatest player in the world and his desire at times to be just "a normal guy.''

In the interview with Italian TV show "Le Iene,'' to be aired on Sunday, Balotelli also denies some of the many stories about his time at Inter Milan and Manchester City.

Balotelli says the players he admires most are Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But unlike that trio, the Italy striker has never been in the running for world player of the year.

"It's my fault,'' Balotelli said. "Sacrifice counts for a lot in sport. From a young age I couldn't do the normal things that the boys of my age get to do. Maybe you have a nice car or a nice house, but at times you just want to be a normal guy and you can't.

"I want to be the strongest player in the world and score a lot of goals. To do that I have to improve in every area.''

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Balotelli's desire to be a normal guy is seemingly at odds with his flamboyant lifestyle and his car wrapped in military camouflage.

However, the 22-year-old insists the majority of the stories written about him are false.

Balotelli said the infamous story of him setting fire to his own house with fireworks was false and also denied getting into fights with Manchester United fans and wearing Milan socks in training while playing for Inter.

He also said the only club fine he received was after City won the English league last season and he went back to Italy instead of celebrating with the team.

"There are certain people who really don't know how to make money in life and therefore try to take advantage of others,'' Balotelli said. "Gossip is one thing, but to invent stories is close to criminal.

"There are more important things than gossip. Many stories are invented about me, too many stories, almost everyone uses me, and I'd say about 0.01 percent of the gossip is true.''

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Balotelli did admit to throwing darts at Manchester City youth players and to commissioning a bronze statue of himself for his house in Italy.

The former Inter Milan star has been fortunate to have trained under some of the best managers in the world, having worked with Jose Mourinho at Inter and Roberto Mancini at City.

Balotelli famously got into a training-ground bustup with Mancini shortly before his ?20 million ($27 million) transfer to Milan in January.

"I rarely hear from Mancini,'' he said. "I had fouled someone and he got angry, that's all. We made up afterwards. Who do I prefer between Mancini and Mourinho? As a person Mancini, in football terms Mourinho.

"I argued a lot with Mourinho, but I also remember great moments of joy, in which we laughed. We worked hard with him and played with great intensity, because that was what he wanted.''

Balotelli has impressed since his return to Italy and has scored five goals in five games.

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