Italy legend Paolo Rossi says Mario Balotelli is vital to the Azzurri's World Cup chances this summer.
The 57-year-old netted six goals at the 1982 tournament to help Italy to the title and the former Juventus and Milan man believes the AC Milan star could emulate him in Brazil.
"Balotelli is not an easy character. But he's the kind of player where you have no choice but to accept how he is. You can expect incredible things from players like him because they are very talented, but they do not always behave rational," Rossi told Perform.
"You can expect rational behaviour from players who are less talented, but we need a player like Balotelli. You need great players in order to win important trophies. Mario has always done well with the national team, even in regards to his behaviour.
"I think little by little he’s getting more and more mature. He went through difficult situations and I think this has helped him mature. Now he’s getting to an age where he’s more mature, he’s not a child anymore.
"In my opinion he’s got a lot to give. We expect a lot from him because everyone says he’s talented and maybe he has yet to give the best of himself in terms of consistency. He’s an important player for the national team, though, and we have to hang on him."
Italy have been paired with Uruguay, Costa Rica and England at the World Cup. They start their Group D campaign with a match against England on June 14.