Anyone who witnessed Mario Balotelli's two-goal salvo against Germany during the semi-final of Euro 2012 would have imagined that the 21-year-old forward had quite the international future ahead of him.
Over the next two years, Balotelli would play 17 games for the Azzurri; scoring 8 times in total - he has not played for Italy since.
The first black player to represent Italy at a major international tournament in 2012, the man now plying his trade in Ligue 1 with Nice believes it is the colour of his skin that has kept him out of consideration for selection.
Speaking to the French publication, So Foot, Balotelli believes he would have already been "forgiven" had he been a white footballer:
I think that if I had been white, I’d have had fewer problems. Perhaps I did cause some of my own problems and had the wrong attitude at times, but would I have been forgiven quicker? Absolutely yes.
Yet, the former Manchester City man doesn't believe Italy is an inherently racist nation; although "it does have some racists in it."
During his spell in Nice, Balotelli has rediscovered his goal-scoring form. Although some would argue that the standard of football in the top-tier of France isn't necessarily the greatest barometer of a player's form, Italy's current struggles suggest they could do with considering a reintroduction of Balotelli.
From the player who became something of a nuisance during his spell at City, to the misfit who couldn't settle down into his game at AC Milan or Liverpool, Balotelli is still only 27-years-old, and, according to his recent comments regarding race and the Italian state, may well have reevaluated a few things:
Even if I am Italian, born and raised in Italy, the law states I only became Italian once I reached the age of 18.
The law is wrong and that is perhaps why to this day some people see black as the colour of diversity, of inferiority of an error in the middle of a team photograph.