MANCHESTER CITY striker Mario Balotelli was warned yesterday by Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi that he must behave and accept the authority of the coach Cesare Prandelli or risk undermining his team in their Euro 2012 quarter-final against England on Sunday.
The controversial 21-year-old was a prominent theme in yesterday's press conference with De Rossi, in which the Roma midfielder made no attempt to hide his occasional exasperation at Balotelli's inability to control his emotions around football.
"He's a great player, so if he wants to grow up, he has to know how to react to this kind of high-pressure game," De Rossi said.
Asked whether there was a possibility that Balotelli could be at risk of a yellow card or worse against an England defence that has been one of the best aspects of the team in this tournament, De Rossi said: "Up to a certain point. We have talked a lot about Balotelli."
Balotelli has refused to speak at all since the Italy team arrived at their base in Krakow, turning down daily requests from the Italian media.
He remains a subject of fascination in Italy as much as he retains a cult status in England, even though there is still no certainty that Balotelli will start Sunday's game in Kiev, having been a substitute in the last game against Ireland in which he scored a smart volley in their 2-0 win.
De Rossi said that the player himself had to take responsibility for the manner in which he was portrayed publically.
"With Mario and the tabloid newspapers, you have to ask him," De Rossi said.
"I don't know whether he is worried about it or whether it is him who is giving them the material.
"He's kind of used to this situation. There is a lot of talk and scandals around him because he's very good. He's an outstanding player. He's young, he's playing at Manchester City.
"I have seen him being very calm at this tournament. We are here to win Euro 2012 which means everyone has to take responsibility and, so far, everyone has done that. Everyone here is treated the same way.
"Of course, sometimes, he commits some mistakes off the pitch. But it's his responsibility.
"He has to play a great game against England. He simply has to accept the manager's decision. It's the manager who will take the decision about him."