It took a winning goal at his first-ever World Cup game to see Mario Balotelli smile and celebrate after he secured Italy’s 2-1 win over England in Manaus on Saturday.
Pictures of a smiling Balotelli lifting his arms and blowing kisses filled Italian newspapers and websites on Sunday, giving way to speculations that his recent wedding proposal was helping the AC Milan striker control his often unruly behaviour on the pitch.
The target of his kisses was Fanny Neguesha, the Belgian fiancée who last week joined Super Mario and said yes on the beach of the Mangaratiba resort, where the Azzurri set their camp.
“I am truly happy. It is a unique emotion,” said Balotelli.
“I had never played at a World Cup and having such a first game is fantastic. I dedicate the goal to my future wife, to my family, and to my friends who are at home watching me on TV.”
“Let’s think about playing game by game, without getting a swollen head, otherwise we are going nowhere,” he said. “I watched the first games of the World Cup. There are no minnows; they are all organised and strong. All teams are to be feared, but they have also to fear us. Italy are Italy.”