Mario Balotelli has garnered praise from Italy manager, Cesare Prandelli, after the Azzurri’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Malta on Tuesday night.
The AC Milan striker scored a brace, to continue the purple patch he has enjoyed since escaping Manchester City and life in England.
But it was not Super Mario’s goal exploits- which saw 2006 world champions Italy move a step closer to Brazil 2014- which impressed Prandelli.
Instead, the coach enjoyed the way Balotelli kept his cool, amid the taunts directed his way from the Malta fans in the crowd.
In the past, feisty Balotelli could easily have snapped. But in the way the former Inter Milan man managed to stay focused on the job at hand, Prandelli saw the signs of personal growth.
"He just needs to get used to that kind of thing," Prandelli said of the abuse directed towards Balotelli, on figc.it.
"He has to stay strong and keep his cool when people are trying to wind him up, like he did tonight."
Prandelli also had praise for Italy skipper Gigi Buffon, who remains a rock for the side.
He conceded penalty to induce Azzurri jitters, but then save the spot kick to restore calm.
"He did that at the perfect moment - like a captain should," Prandelli said admiringly.