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 By Ben Gladwell

Mario Balotelli sorry for Italy failure

Italy flew out of Rio de Janeiro's Galeão Military Air Base on Wednesday after exiting the World Cup at the group stage for the second time in a row.

Mario Balotelli has apologised to Italy coach Cesare Prandelli and accepted a share of the responsibility for Italy's World Cup exit.

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The Azzurri failed to make it past the group stage for the second World Cup in succession after defeats against Costa Rica and Uruguay.

Although Balotelli scored the winning goal in the opening game against England, he failed to make any further mark on the tournament in his role as a lone striker.

After Italy's flight landed at Milan's Malpensa airport, Balotelli, who had spent most of the journey in isolation away from his teammates, shook Prandelli's hand and said: "I know I got it wrong." He then left the airport with his fiancee Fanny Negusha.

"He's sad. Actually, he's desperate," his agent Mino Raiola told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He's not accused anybody -- if anything he's depressed because he knows he wasn't able to express all of his talent. But I'd like to ask: which Italy player did?"

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Balotelli did not appear to show so much remorse when he launched a tirade at those who had pinned the blame for Italy's failure on him.

According to Raiola, that was just a "reaction to one specific criticism" and Balotelli has no intention of revoking his Italian citizenship.

"I think he showed dignity," Raiola said. "Let's not forget that it was he who chose to become Italian, and he's proud of that decision. It was just the usual misunderstanding.

"What I can say is that he's placed under incredible pressure -- he has the whole of Italy on his back. He reacts in his own way, but I can assure you that the situation he's in is not easy.

"He's always been enthusiastic about playing for his country -- it's the best thing going for him to represent Italy. But it's not going to be down to him. If the next coach listens to the criticism, then maybe he doesn't even call him up."

Italian FA vice-president Demetrio Albertini warned the AC Milan forward to buck his ideas up before it is too late.

"Balotelli has got talent and he's got to assume the responsibility for giving something to the national team," he said.

"He's no longer a 20-year-old, he's a player who, in basketball, would be the one to take the last shot. Otherwise, he runs the risk of becoming one of those players who might have been but never was."


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