MARIO BALOTELLI needed just 14 minutes to get his first rollicking back in Milan.
And it happened live on TV during his helter-skelter presentation to the world here at the San Siro.
It came after a question by RAI, the Italian national broadcaster, regarding Milan president Silvio Berlusconi’s comment a few weeks ago that he was a ‘rotten apple’.
Berlusconi’s words were reported by all the major media outlets after pictures of Balotelli grappling with his then Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini at training went around the globe.
That almost spelt the end of Milan’s pursuit of the striker but just weeks later, here he was following his £19.5million move from City this week.
Balotelli responded: “I was in Manchester and didn’t hear it. I heard it later when my agent was already speaking to the club. The president has already excused himself for saying that… ”
At that point no-nonsense Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani butted in to show Balotelli that he cannot put a foot wrong at the Rossoneri.
Turning to Balotelli he said: “Sorry, you don’t know this but I do.
“The president has already said he’s never said such a thing, which is a bit different. Thank you for the question and I will answer it myself.
“The president has never excused himself. This is my answer to the journalist. I see the questions and I am older than you and I understand the meaning of the questions better than you.”
So out of the frying pan and into the fire, Mario. Balotelli smiled, embarrassed and cut down to size in front of the watching world media.
There were 130 journalists and TV crews from countries as far away as China, while the event was streamed live on YouTube in hundreds of countries by Milan’s official channel.
Balotelli, 22, blamed everyone but himself for his ROTTEN years in England. He blamed the English newspapers and insisted he had no regrets.
Don’t worry Mario. We all know it was the English papers that set your house on fire with fireworks, crashed your cars, got involved in training ground punch-ups with your team-mates AND with your manager.
The Italian international striker insisted he will only miss his team-mates and hates English food and the weather. It was minus two degrees outside the San Siro yesterday, by the way.
So welcome home then to the bright sunshine Mario.
He said: “No, I don’t have regrets about my time in England. I have to say thanks to all the City fans because they’ve been very nice to me.
“They always supported me in the bad moments. I have to thank my team-mates and my manager.
“As for everything else, I am happy that I left England. The good things were only when I went to Carrington to train, my team-mates and manager. And bad things everything else.
“The Press. The weather. The food. The way I like to drive and that’s it.”
Funny he should say the way he ‘likes’ to drive, given the way he crashed his Audi R8 days after arriving in England.
At least Balotelli admitted the Premier League is superior to Serie A and even admitted that he had to look for another club after he was frozen out of first-team football by fed-up Mancini.
He said: “I have to be honest, English football is beautiful.
“And, if I can say, it is ahead of the Italian League.
“But in England I wasn’t playing so I had this dream to play for Milan and to be close to my family and to my friends.
“To be honest the Premier League is an amazing League. I think it’s the best.
“The crowd, the pitches are really amazing. I don’t know for the future if I could go back or not. For the moment I want to be here.”
But his parting shot was typical Balotelli. He said: “You don’t need to understand me, I don’t care.”
And the maverick striker continued: “It does not weigh heavily on me. It’s an honour to play for Milan.
“I’m already a man. I want to play as soon as possible.
“To be back in Milan is important — above all — because I am close to my family and my friends. Manchester is not close to Milan.
“To play for Milan has always been a dream and so I am happy. But I want to do my talking on the pitch.
“I left three years ago. I have grown up and I am here to win. I want to be the protagonist and win.”
He will certainly be the protagonist all right.
The last word, of course, has to go to Galliani, a man who has run the Italian giants with an iron fist for 27 years.
He said: “I hope I won’t have reason to occupy myself and I hope there won’t be a reason to deal with anything.”
Well, here’s hoping to that, Signore.