World Cup is once in a lifetime chance for Mario Balotelli says international boss

Mario Balotelli Italy

Cesare Prandelli has called on ex-Manchester City star Mario Balotelli to make the most of his "opportunity of a lifetime" at this summer's World Cup.

The AC Milan striker will lead the line for his national side at next month's World Cup, and much will be expected of the talented yet mercurial Balotelli.

The unpredictable nature of the former Manchester City forward has led to some questioning his temperament ahead of the Brazil competition, but Prandelli has defended his player and thinks he could shine for the Azzurri in South America.

Speaking to Sport Mediaset the Italy boss said, "On Balotelli, I have always said that in the national team he has never behaved outside the rules. He has played important matches, he has a very high goal average and I value him for what he has done and still does in an Azzurri shirt.

“He knows that the World Cup can be the opportunity of a lifetime for a footballer. I will place my trust in the maturity of the boys, in their ability to assess my decisions and to face up to a unique opportunity like the World Cup.

"We need to assess a lot of things. Our ability to react, the climate factor and physical tiredness. And I will also need to reflect before making some painful decisions. It’s difficult to have to explain to a player why he has been excluded from the squad."

Despite the Rossoneri's disappointing eighth-place finish last season, the 23-year-old managed 18 goals for the San Siro outfit.

Meanwhile, Prandelli is now able to focus his efforts solely on the World Cup after agreeing a two-year contract extension on Monday.

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