Soccer: Balotelli must stop wasting energy on the 'trivial'
Italy coach Prandelli says forward 'potential' great19 February, 18:11
The 23-year-old's career has been dogged by ill discipline, rows with coaches and match officials and bizarre off-field incidents.
He was at the centre of attention earlier this month when he broke down in tears after being substituted during a 3-1 defeat at Napoli in Serie A.
Some commentators have linked the display of emotion to him recently acknowledging paternity of the child of his ex-girlfriend.
"Mario Balotelli has the potential to be one of the greats," Prandelli said in an interview published Wednesday on the website of international soccer's governing body FIFA.
"However, he needs to find a seriousness and a balance so that he can realise his potential. "In recent years he has wasted lots of energy on trivial things. "The great champions don't do that. For them the only thing that matters is winning".
Despite being a volatile character with a habit of picking up red cards, Prandelli is keeping faith in the AC Milan striker, who has Ghanaian roots, and he is set to lead Italy's attack at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.
Balotelli showed the world what he is capable under Prandelli when he scored a fine double to give Italy a 2-1 win over Germany in the semi-final of Euro 2012.
"We have a good relationship, and we both know how to get across what we want to say," Prandelli said.
"All the coaches that have worked with Mario try to offer him something new, because they know the enormous potential he has. "When he fulfils his potential he will make a huge difference to any team".