Italian legend Gigi Riva admits he urged Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli to speak with the media this week.

Balotelli was questioned by journalists at the Azzurri's Coverciano training base where he covered a variety of subjects.

"I saw him one day at lunch and I told him that it was perhaps the right time for him to speak to the Press," the Italian national team official told Sky Sport Italia.

"I said that there was a good breeze in his direction and that there was a need for a new protagonist in the absence of Antonio Cassano.

"He said: 'If you say that this is the right time then I'll do it.'

"He's a very good kid with us. He laughs, jokes and plays. He's not one of those guys who causes trouble every now and again."