Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has spoken fondly of his time coaching Mario Balotelli at Inter, labelling the mercurial Manchester City youngster a "funny kid."
The Portuguese coach endured a fractious relationship with the striker during his time in Italy and often argued with the Italian international over his off-field behavior. Mourinho has moved to play down any suggestions of a rift between himself and Balotelli, though, insisting that he found the player amusing.
"I could write a book of 200 pages of my two years at Inter with Mario, but the book would be not a drama, the book would be a comedy, because he is funny, he's a funny kid," Mourinho told CNN. Mourinho went on to suggest that City boss Roberto Mancini is the perfect mentor for the young striker, as his long relationship with Balotelli makes him ideally suited to get the best out of him.
Mourinho himself warned the 22-year-old Balotelli that if he fails under the Italian boss, then he is unlikely to ever reach his full potential as a player.
"Mancini was his first coach as a professional, so before me,"Mourinho said. "So for sure the same feeling I have, Mancini has probably even more than Mario. You know, Mario was 18 with Mancini at Inter and he was 20 with me. Now, he should be 22, so the natural tendency is that he grows up and becomes the player that the talent he has.
"I've no contact with Mario in this moment, but I hope so. I hope so, and Roberto knows him well, speaks the same language, knows him since he was a kid, so if he doesn't do it with Roberto, it will be difficult to do with another one, but I hope so because he's a talent."
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- Roberto Mancini