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Bye Bye Balotelli: 'Super Mario' returns to Italy with Milan

Story highlights

  • Mario Balotelli joins AC Milan after leaving Manchester City
  • The 22-year-old signs four-and-a-half-year deal with Italian club
  • He had a troubled time in England, both on and off the pitch
  • Balotelli describes his City career as "a very good experience"
Fireworks going off inside his own house, a car crash in his first week at Manchester City, throwing a dart at a youth team player and that iconic image of a t-shirt adorned with the words, "Why always me?"
The English Premier League will miss the crazy antics of Mario Balotelli.
The 22-year-old has returned to Italy after signing a four-and-a-half-year deal with AC Milan following an action-packed spell with a club he last season helped end a 44-year wait for the league title.
He has struggled to regain the form that took Italy to the final of Euro 2012, where he was the tournament's joint top scorer with three goals.
"I didn't start the season very well with City so I am coming to Milan to revive myself and to do well," said the Italy striker, who has completed a return to Serie A in a deal said to be worth around $30 million.
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"I have wanted to play for Milan for a long time, but I was with other teams. When this chance came along I grabbed it. I hope Milan can become a big club again."
Balotelli was welcomed to the San Siro on Thursday's transfer deadline day as Milan's website reported his arrival with the banners "Yes always you!" and "One of us."
It published a roundup of Italian newspaper headlines, one of which read: "Mamma and Papa wanted him home" -- a reference to Balotelli's foster parents Silvia and Francesco, who adopted him from his Ghanaian immigrant family at the age of three.
Balotelli went to Manchester from Milan's city rival Internazionale for $37.8 million in 2010, one of several big-money deals funded by the English club's Abu Dhabi owners.
He helped City win the FA Cup that season, its first trophy since 1976, but his time there was dogged by controversy ever since he crashed his car while en-route to the training ground just days after his arrival.
Earlier this month, photographs emerged of him having a "training ground bust-up" with manager Roberto Mancini.
Balotelli endured a love-hate relationship with Mancini, with whom he had previously worked at Inter Milan and who has acted as a father figure for the player.
Balotelli said he spoke at length with the 48-year-old before farewelling his City teammates at a meal on Tuesday.
"It was a very emotional for me," he told City's website.
"I spoke with Roberto before I went to speak to the players. We spoke for some time about lots of things. He was sad, and I was too. But it was a good conversation.
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"I love Roberto, he has been very important for my career, and I will always thank him for having trust and faith in me.
"Being at City was an important part of my life and career. I needed to grow up like a player and as a person and it has been a very good experience for me."
Balotelli's first Premier League goals in November 2010 were overshadowed by a red card, the first of four he would go on to receive during his City career.
Balotelli continued to catch attention both on and off the pitch, none more so than in October 2011 after a firework was set off in the bathroom of his home.
Emergency services were called to deal with that incident which occurred the day before he scored twice in City's 6-1 win at rival Manchester United and revealed that infamous t-shirt -- and days later he was bizarrely named as the public face of a fireworks safety campaign.
He broke a 48-hour curfew to visit a curry restaurant in December 2011 before a game against Chelsea, which was quickly followed by a training-ground bust-up with teammate Micah Richards.
Trouble continued to follow Balotelli around and he was given a four-match ban in January 2012 after appearing to stamp on the head of Tottenham's Scott Parker during a Premier League game.
He gatecrashed an Inter Milan press conference in March 2012 when the club was preparing to unveil new manager Andrea Stramaccioni, which was followed with another red card in the game at Arsenal.
Balotelli scored just 20 Premier League goals in two years, and his only assist in 54 top-flight appearances famously led to Sergio Aguero's title-winning strike on the final day of last season.