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The striker was under the tutelage of his compatriot at Inter and Manchester City, and the AC Milan man has thanked the manager for the positive impact he has had on his career

Mario Balotelli has hailed former Inter and Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini as the "most important coach" in his career to date.

Mancini handed the striker his Inter debut at the age of 17, before later bringing him to the Premier League after Balotelli had fallen out with Jose Mourinho at San Siro.

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Balotelli often struggled to nail down a regular spot at the Etihad Stadium, although Mancini persisted with him despite a number of disciplinary problems.

However, tensions came to a head between the manager and coach in January when the pair were photographed clashing in training after Mancini had admonished Balotelli for a tough tackle on Scott Sinclair.

Balotelli moved to Milan later that month and has since netted 16 goals in 20 games for Massimiliano Allegri's side.

Despite a bitter end to his time in England, Balotelli still holds Mancini in high regard.

"Mancini was the most important coach in my career," he said. "I respect him and am thankful for the opportunity he gave me at Inter.

"I wanted to play more at Manchester, but there were five strikers and it was difficult to play all the time.

"I didn’t express myself to the full there, even if I put the effort in."

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