However at the full-time whistle in Kiev, the Manchester City man made a beeline for the dressing room. He came up against resistance from senior figures and appeared to push one.
After several minutes, Balotelli could then be seen on his haunches in the centre of the pitch. He later collected his medal but broke down in tears as soon as he returned to the pitch.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli says his player will emerge stronger from the shattering experience.
'I told Mario that these are experiences you have to deal with and have to accept,' said Prandelli. 'You have to hold your hands up and say the opponents were better, accept defeat.
'But you also have to make sure this helps you going forward and you can grow from the experience. This has happened to a number of players, and will happen again, but this is what sport is all about.'
Cities & Stadiums
The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments
|2008||Spain||Germany||Russia / Turkey|
|2004||Greece||Portugal||Netherlands / Czech Republic|
|2000||France||Italy||Netherlands / Portugal|
|1996||Germany||Czech Republic||France / England|
|1992||Denmark||Germany||Netherlands / Sweden|
|1988||Netherlands||Soviet Union||Italy / West Germany|
|1984||France||Spain||Denmark / Portugal|
|1972||West Germany||Soviet Union||Belgium|