By Brian Homewood
GENEVA (Reuters) - Mario Balotelli earned lavish praise for his team spirit from Italy coach Cesare Prandelli following his performance in the 2-2 draw in a friendly against Brazil on Thursday.
"I know how he really wants to be one of the best in the world but he has to remember how he can get there, and that is through team work," Prandelli told reporters.
"That is what he did tonight, like a true champion."
The maverick striker has found a new lease of life since joining AC Milan from English champions Manchester City in January, scoring seven goals in six Serie A appearances.
He scored a majestic equaliser against Brazil to cap a performance in which he dropped deep looking for the ball and created chances for his team mates plus several for himself.
Prandelli, who demands impeccable behaviour from his players, has not always seen eye-to-eye with Balotelli and at one stage dropped the 22-year-old from the squad after the player foul of the Italy team's code of ethics.
"He has the potential to be among the best five (players) in the world but to do that he needs a lot of continuity, as he is having at the moment," said Prandelli.
"I trust Balotelli, he played as a team player tonight and always managed to keep the right balance between attack and midfield and he was a strong point of our team."
Italy recovered from two goals down at halftime against Brazil at the Stade de Geneve after goals from Fred and Oscar put the 2014 World Cup hosts on top but Danielle De Rossi and Balotelli struck after the break to salvage a draw.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris)