Marcello Lippi says that he would have selected Mario Balotelli had he remained in charge of the Italian national side after World Cup 2010.
The Manchester City ace has been a regular in the plans of new boss Cesare Prandelli when fit, but he never got a call from Lippi.
“The Italian Football Federation knew that I would have considered Balotelli for selection had I stayed on for another cycle,” Lippi told Sportitalia.
“At that moment though, when I was in charge, he didn’t deserve to be a part of the squad and he wasn’t even making a difference for the Italian Under-21 side.
“However, he was and is an important player, one who the new side could be built on – whether I was there or not.
“He’s certainly very useful right now and he’ll be an important reference point for the Italian national side.”
Balotelli, born in August 1990, is presently playing his football in England after making a name for himself at Inter.
In seven appearances for the Azzurri, totalling 289 minutes so far, he has scored one goal – his wonder strike in November’s 2-0 win over Poland.