Inter Milan legend Materazzi: Man City's Balotelli destined for greatness
The two played together in Italy before the talented striker left the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza for an experience with Manchester City.
"I instantly understood how good a player he was," Materazzi told Sky Sport Italia.
"We were in training with the youth side and he tried - and succeeded - to play the ball in between my legs
"I had never seen a player so good at such a young age."
Balotelli, like Materazzi, has had a controversial career to date, but Matrix believes that the future could be his.
"I really do hope that he achieves great success in his career," continued the former Perugia centre-back.
"I want him to become the first black player to win the World Cup with Italy."