Shay Given compares Mario Balotelli to Alan Shearer and discusses Roberto Mancini altercation

Shay Given has said that Mario Balotelli’s finishing was reminiscent of Alan Shearer’s when he first arrived at Manchester City.

Given joined City in February 2009 when Mark Hughes was in charge and enjoyed a strong start to life at the club.

In the summer of 2009, City’s recruitment was ramped up, with the likes of Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott signing in big-money moves. The pressure increased on Hughes as a result and he was eventually sacked in December 2009.

Roberto Mancini came in to fill the vacancy and initially Given remained City ‘s goalkeeper, playing for the remainder of the campaign and starting 35 Premier League games the following season.

Joe Hart was chosen to replace Given in the summer of 2010, with the Irishman relegated to a backup berth. It was in that summer when Balotelli arrived from Inter Milan.

Speaking to the Open Goal show, Given said the Italian had an amazing amount of ability and compared his technique to that of Shearer, the Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer.

“I think so, if he had have been more, I suppose, dedicated and maybe that’s what Mancini was trying to get out of him,” said the former goalkeeper when asked if Balotelli could have gone to the top.

“Trying to push him a little bit more.

“He was a brilliant finisher, he reminded be a little bit of Alan Shearer the way he struck a ball. A rocket, he could finish like. There was more to give and perhaps he just didn’t push himself enough.

“He was just a daft lad and always messing and carrying on and stuff. The lads knew he had ability but he didn’t want to push himself and his career’s gone a wee bit like that hasn’t it?”

Given will know first hand what it’s like to face both players, as he was at Newcastle for 12 years before he moved to City. Shearer netted a remarkable 260 Premier League goals in total and spent the majority of his Premier League career at St James’ Park.

Balotelli left City after just three seasons and after spells with AC Milan, Liverpool and Nice his career has been on a downward trajectory. The 31-year-old is now playing for Adana Demirspor is the Turkish top flight.

Given also provided more details on Balotelli’s famous skirmish with Mancini on the training pitch, with the two countrymen coming to blows.

“They had a bit of a scrap on the pitch, grabbing each other around the neck,” he said. “They had to be separated. They were shouting back and forth in Italian so I don’t know exactly what Mario said.”

Balotelli was well known his antics away from the football pitch too and Given said the forward had a juvenile streak to him when he was at City.

“Yeah he was funny, he was mad,” said the former goalkeeper. “[On a] Night out and he’d be bouncing ice cubes off your head. [He was] Just like a kid, he just never grew up!”

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