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."