MARCO MATERAZZI has revealed that he handed out “a good beating” to then Inter Milan team-mate Mario Balotelli after the Champions League semi-final in 2010.
The pair were playing under current Spurs boss Jose Mourinho and had just beaten Barcelona 3-1 in the first leg of the tie at the San Siro.
However, the game is often remembered for Balotelli’s petulance at the full-time whistle after his lacklustre display off the bench.
Balotelli, only 19 at the time, threw down his shirt at the end of the 90 minutes causing uproar among the Inter faithful and much to the displeasure of no-nonsense Italian defender Materazzi.
On Instagram live, Materazzi recalled: “I gave him a good beating, it’s true. I love Mario, but he really deserved it that day.
“We’ve become friends again now, practically brothers, but he did something that day that he really should not have done.
“Throwing his shirt to the ground after the final whistle wasn’t even the worst of it.
“Before the game, on the team bus, he told us: ‘Today I’m going to play badly,’ so I promised to make him pay if he did.
“When he came off the bench, he tried a shot from midfield rather than go on the counter. Diego Milito wanted to kill him.
“We believed in Mario, he scored many goals and contributed to the victory, but a week after that, I asked Mourinho to put me against Balotelli in the training ground games between ranks.
“After a few seconds, I’d sent him back to the dressing room.”
The unorthodox relationship between team-mates clearly did no damage to Inter as they went on to win the treble that season, including a 2-0 Champions League final triumph over Bayern Munich in Madrid.
Materazzi’s disciplining of Balotelli may have made him seem like a father figure for the precocious young talent.
But the defensive ace – infamous for being on the receiving end of Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt during Italy’s 2006 World Cup final victory – reserved special praise for Balotelli’s own father.
He said: “I really loved his father, as after a game with Rubin Kazan he told Mario: ‘I didn’t like your performance, you have to play more for your team-mates. And stop going around with girls!’ What an idol.”
Former Inter boss Mourinho will hope to replicate his trophy-laden spell in Italy at new club Tottenham and Materazzi would like to see his old mentor return to winning ways.
He added: “Nobody can match Mourinho when it comes to creating that empathic connection with players. Plus he’s a smartass.
“He has struggled to win recently, because he was successful at Manchester United. Tottenham have a young and strong squad, so I hope he can get back to winning ways.”