Italy coach Roberto Mancini admits Mario Balotelli ought to be at the ‘peak’ of his career, but has proved to be ‘disappointing for all of us who knew him as a person and a player.’
The striker turned 31 last month and is currently struggling to get a goal for newly-promoted Turkish Super Lig side Adana Demirspor.
It comes after failing to last a full season at Serie B club Monza, Brescia and Olympique Marseille.
“I worked with Balotelli when he was young and did really well. He was and still is in terms of technique a great player. Let’s not forget he is 31 years old, so ought to be at his peak,” Mancini told RAI Sport.
“Clearly, it was disappointing for all of us who knew him as a person and a player that in the last five or six years he was unable to do what he was capable of doing.”
Mancini trained SuperMario both at Inter and Manchester City, famously clashing with him in training and during a pre-season friendly to bring their rapport to an early end.
Balo went on to Milan, Liverpool and OGC Nice, never fully reaching the potential that he so obviously had.
His Italy career also stalled with 14 goals in 36 senior caps, most recently featuring in the Nations League draw with Poland in September 2018.
The coach at the time was again Mancini, just starting out his tenure on the Azzurri bench, which would eventually lead to triumph at UEFA EURO 2020.