Florence: Errant striker Mario Balotelli joined Italy coach Cesare Prandelli and captain Gianluigi Buffon in making a surprise visit to a prison in Florence on Monday.
While Prandelli and Buffon had planned to make the trip, Balotelli asked to come along as well and proved a big hit with inmates.
"I was supposed to go with Buffon and when he found out about it, Mario asked to join us," said Prandelli.
"I said ok, as long as you smile when you get out the car."
And Prandelli added that the inmates made a beeline for the troubled star, who has often found himself in hot water despite his tender years.
"It was as if they were giving him a message, we've made mistakes but you don't need to," said Prandelli.
Balotelli, 21, has had trouble with both his current team Manchester City and previous employers Inter Milan.
He was once sidelined by then-Inter coach Jose Mourinho for seven matches for refusing to apologise following an internal dispute while he was jeered by fans after throwing his shirt on the ground at the end of a Champions League clash with Barcelona.
At Manchester City, manager Roberto Mancini hauled him off in the first half of a friendly against LA Galaxy after accusing him of not taking the game seriously.
And he was surrounded by angry Manchester United players following last season's FA Cup semi-final after seemingly goading United fans after City's victory.