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Balotelli wants World Cup, not stardom

Saturday, June 21, 2014

NATAL, Brazil - Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho has called his skills a "gift from God", but Mario Balotelli said achieving star status like Neymar or Lionel Messi plays second fiddle to helping Italy win the World Cup.

AC Milan star Balotelli has been tipped to be one of the stars of his maiden World Cup after heading the winner in a 2-1 win against England in the side's Group D opener last week.

It prompted Mourinho, who coached the Italian striker at Inter Milan, to say on Thursday: "With the physique and the technique that he has, Mario has enormous potential. The skills he has are a gift from God."

But the former Manchester City striker, who has recently been linked with a move to both Arsenal and Chelsea, said his focus was firmly on the Azzurri cause.

"This World Cup is all about Italy, not Mario. I'm not interested in being treated as a big star like Neymar or Messi. All that matters is what the team achieves," Balotelli told reporters on Thursday.

After England's 2-1 defeat against Uruguay, Italy host Costa Rica in Recife on Friday looking for a second straight group phase win.

Balotelli said he had not yet bothered to study how to outfox the central Americans' backline.

For now, the 23-year-old, who recently got engaged to girlfriend Fanny Neguesha, is relaxed and soaking up the atmosphere in Brazil, and dreaming of adding to his goal tally.

"When I watched Costa Rica play Uruguay I was watching for enjoyment, not to study them. But we will be having a closer look tonight.

"I'm totally relaxed. I don't feel any pressure. I want to score as many goals as I can, but my focus is on helping Italy get as far as possible.

"The World Cup is worth more than a Ballon d'Or or a Champions League title. Being here in Brazil is pretty special, I want to win the World Cup."

Balotelli refused to be drawn on a question about his club future, saying: "I don't know anything right now. We'll see after the World Cup."

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