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Inter's Balotelli sets sights on first Italian cap

MILAN, August 13 (National Team) - Internazionale teenager Mario Balotelli has set his sights on a place in the Azzurri team after being granted Italian citizenship on Wednesday.

Of Ghanaian origin, Balotelli was born in Palermo and adopted by an Italian family. However, as the adoption was never made official he was forced to wait until his 18th birthday before applying for the Italian nationality.

Balotelli did so on Tuesday and, now a proud owner of an Italian passport, he is eager to kick-start his Azzurri career.

'It's not my dream, but my aim,' he said. 'For anyone who feels patriotic, to pull on the Azzurri shirt is the top.

'For me it's a great emotion, I have waited for this day for a long time. It's an important moment for me and my family. I am proud to be Italian.

'It was more emotional than my Serie A debut. Now the best present would be to get into the national team, the senior one, but even the Under-21 (side) would be very good.'

Balotelli, whose nickname is 'SuperMario', turned down the chance to play for Ghana several times - the first call-up coming days after his 17th birthday.

And the youngster feels he made the right decision.

'I'm Italian from birth but it's only become fact today,' added Balotelli. 'There was a moment in which I considered accepting the offer and saying yes to the Ghana side, but then the idea of playing for the country where I have been since birth prevailed.

'Now I'm waiting for a call from (Italy coach Marcello) Lippi or (under-21 coach Pierluigi) Casiraghi.'


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