The striker's career has been plagued by episodes of indiscipline and his national team coach says now is the time to seize the "opportunity of a lifetime" at the World CupItaly coach Cesare Prandelli has urged Mario Balotelli not to waste his chance to shine on the big stage at the World Cup.
The Milan striker is expected to lead the line in Italy's Group D opener with England, a match that will mark his first appearance at the tournament if he gets the nod.
Balotelli showcased his talent at a major international tournament with three goals in Italy's run to the final of Uefa Euro 2012, but has been plagued by episodes of indiscipline throughout his career.
The 23-year-old scored 14 goals in 30 Serie A appearances last term, but was criticised as Milan endured a torrid season that saw them finish eighth.
However, Prandelli believes the mercurial striker has the perfect opportunity to silence the doubters by starring in Brazil.
"Balotelli is an important player for the national team, like a lot of others," Prandelli told reporters. "But he must come to the World Cup fully prepared.
"He would do well to listen to his Milan coach Clarence Seedorf and channel the emotions he is feeling into something positive on the pitch.
"He knows the World Cup can be the opportunity of a lifetime for a footballer."