Balotelli: ‘I don’t have to be captain to be a role model’

TURIN, Italy (AP) Mario Balotelli says he doesn’t have to be Italy’s captain to be a role model.

Speaking ahead of a friendly against the Netherlands on Monday, Balotelli says, ”I’m here to score goals. You can also be a role model without wearing the armband.”

Earlier this week when Balotelli played for Italy for the first time in four years, a banner that read, ”My captain is of Italian blood,” was draped on a pitch-side wall during a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia in Switzerland.

With Balotelli one of the most experienced players on Italy’s squad, there had been discussion that he might be named captain.

Pushed on the captaincy, Balotelli says, ”It would be a good signal for African immigrants to represent my country as someone of African origin and captain.”