Mario Balotelli asked to take first penalty, doesn’t like sports drinks

Though he was the youngest player left on the pitch for Italy Euro 2012 shootout against England, 21-year-old Mario Balotelli may have also been the most confident. When it came time to begin the penalty kicks on which Italy would eventually win, thanks in part to a brilliant Andrea Pirlo Panenka, Balotelli was quick to volunteer his perfect eight-for-eight penalty record over the last three years to begin the shootout.

From Reuters:

"Mario came and said he wanted to take the first penalty.

"It means he has a lot of character. I think he was excellent," said Prandelli.

With a smile on his face, Mario then extended his perfect record even though he was facing club teammate Joe Hart in goal. But as easy as that supremely intense situation was for him, drinking a beverage during one of the breaks before the shootout proved a bit more difficult.

While having a chat with Antonio Cassano, Balotelli casually sat back and took a swig of a yellow sports drink, held it in his mouth for a second and then lurched forward and spit it out on the ground. Either someone spiked his drink or he just doesn't like artificial lemon-lime flavoring, but like the substitute's bib and yoga mat before it, this once again proves that inanimate objects are very much out to get Mario.

Here are a few more excellent photos of Mario from the match...