Mario Balotelli acccused of ‘disrespect’ towards Jordan Henderson, by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has accused team-mate Mario Balotelli of showing “disrespect” towards vice-captain Jordan Henderson.
Gerrard was in the ITV studio as Henderson skippered the side in his absence during last night’s Europa League clash with Turkish side Besiktas.
That meant the veteran midfielder was immediately put on the spot over the squabble between Balotelli, Henderson and Daniel Sturridge as to who should take a penalty.
In the end, Balotelli won the argument, scored the spot-kick and won the game, but his captain was not impressed and said Henderson should have been the taker.
He told ITV: “Jordan should have taken the penalty. Mario has been a bit mischievous by stepping in front of him and going against what the manager’s planned before the game.
“Credit to him, he’s finished the penalty off, but it would be very interesting in the dressing room if he’d have missed that penalty. I think we’ve have had a similar situation to Everton a couple of weeks ago. It’s not nice to see when player are taking [the ball] of each other and stuff.
“For me, I think rules are rules and codes are codes inside a dressing room. When a manager selects a penalty taker, that player should take it. So it should have been Henderson.”
He added: “I think Jordan has handled the situation very well. He can see that Mario really wanted to score. Jordan walked away at the right moment and handled his post-match interview very well.
“Jordan is the captain and Mario showed Jordan a bit of disrespect there, but he’s scored a very important goal. I think six or seven players would have wanted to take that penalty so if they all say they are taking it, what happens then? Rules are in place for a reason.”
Henderson has since played down the incident in his post-match interview, while Balotelli took to social media to thank the England midfielder for letting him take the penalty.
He told ITV: “Obviously, I wanted the penalty, but Mario felt confident and he has taken big penalties before. It was a great penalty in the end and it was a big goal for us.”
But striker Sturridge looked less than impressed that the Italy star had been allowed to take the kick.
Asked about the England striker, Henderson added: “Everyone wants to take them, but I felt confident in Mario. He has taken big penalties before so he got the nod.”
Balotelli wrote on his Instagram account: “Thank you Hendo for let me take the penalty. Stop drama now. We won – that’s what it count. We are a team and especially we are Liverpool. Come on guys.”