Former Italy boss Marcello Lippi has explained why he didn’t select Mario Balotelli for the 2010 World Cup Finals.
Balotelli, then at Inter, was being talked about as a contender to make the 23-man squad, but Lippi never called him up to his Giro Azzurro.
“I said in South Africa that Balotelli would have a great future,” the former Juventus tactician told Sky Sport Italia.
“However, I didn’t call him up because he didn’t deserve it at the time. He was struggling to perform for the Italian Under-21 side back then…
“He’s now improved though and today he’s a point of strength for the international side.”
The Manchester City striker has been thrust into Cesare Prandelli’s starting XI after the tactician lost Giuseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano for the next six months.
“They’ll both recover for Euro 2012,” Lippi insisted. “It’ll be just like when Francesco Totti did for my national side in 2006.
“I like this new Italy team and they seem to have the same sort of spirit as we had in Germany five years ago.”
Villarreal ace Rossi recently underwent knee surgery, while Milan’s Cassano – who visited teammates at Milanello earlier today – is recovering from minor heart surgery.
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's World Cup tipster competition  - £10,000 to be won!