French legend Patrick Vieira has called on Manchester City's Mario Balotelli to start acting his age.
Despite scoring in Italy's Group C encounter against the Republic of Ireland, it remains to be seen if Balotelli will be restored to the Azzurri's starting line-up in their quarter-final clash against England.
The Manchester City player started in Italy's first two group games at Euro 2012, but was dropped as a result of lacklustre showings in both matches. After scoring in their final group game against the Irish, Balotelli made for the bench in an angry outburst, in what was yet another event to add to his growing list of controversial antics.
During his time as a City player, Vieira played alongside Balotelli briefly. The Frenchman advised his former team-mate to start displaying some maturity for the sake of his footballing career.
"Mario will be 22 in August and he has now reached the point in his life and his career where he has to learn from his mistakes and show that he is a man and no longer a boy," Vieira said to the Daily Telegraph.
"People will lose patience with you and get tired of helping if you do not improve your conduct or fail to learn from your mistakes."
Although Vieira considers it difficult for Balotelli to question his own behaviour, he believes the Italian is willing to make himself a more dependable player.
"I think it can sometimes be difficult for Mario to accept criticism because, when people tell you that you are going to be the best, it can be hard to understand when you are on the wrong side of the critics," Vieira shared.
"But I really feel that Mario is ready to accept help, however, and Mancini is also prepared to support him."
The former Arsenal midfielder also advised Italy manager Cesare Prandelli to give Balotelli another chance by selecting him for the starting 11 against the Three Lions.
"He had a good chance against Spain which he should have scored and then had another game without scoring against Croatia, but in both games, he worked hard for his team," Vieira stated.
"Prandelli must decide whether to start Mario against England, but I think that his strengths ensure that he would make it difficult for John Terry and Joleon Lescott."