Roberto Mancini believes Mario Balotelli has "wasted some years", but can still win back his place for Italy if he maintains his impressive start for Nice.
Mancini handed Balotelli his Serie A debut for Inter in 2007 and later managed him again at Manchester City, but the enigmatic forward has since endured frustrating spells at Liverpool and AC Milan.
Balotelli has found form again at Nice since joining in August, scoring six goals in all competitions to fire his new club to the top of Ligue 1.
His last Italy cap came at the 2014 World Cup, but coach Giampiero Ventura recently refused to rule out a recall.
Mancini, who was sacked as Inter head coach in August, thinks Balotelli is an amazing player who can reach his past form again.
"He's the same age as my son, I gave him his Serie A debut when he was very young," said Mancini at LUISS Guido Carli di Roma University.
"He's an amazing guy, he's young and talented and like all young people he sometimes does stupid things.
"Youth wouldn't be youth if you didn't do stupid things though, there's no such thing as someone who doesn't make mistakes.
"Mario is a fantastic player, but he kind of wasted some years.
"I hope that his experience in France, which has started really well, can take him back to the levels of a few years ago, and then eventually the national team.
"He has some amazing qualities, and for those unfamiliar with him I can tell you he's a really great lad."