'I made a mistake' - Chiellini apologises to Balotelli after slamming striker in autobiography

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Giorgio Chiellini has apologised to Mario Balotelli for harshly criticising the striker in his autobiography, admitting that he "made a mistake."

The Juventus captain slammed the Brescia striker in the upcoming book, saying he “deserved a slap” for his attitude during Italy’s 2013 Confederations Cup campaign.

Chiellini didn't stop there, also saying that “Balotelli is a negative person with no respect for the team."

Balotelli did not take the insult lying down, hitting back against Chiellini on Instagram.

“At least I have the sincerity and courage to say things face to face,” he wrote on his story. "You've had plenty of opportunities since 2013 to behave like a real man but you didn't."

But the pair have now buried the hatchet, as both appeared on Italian TV show Le Iene on Tuesday. 

The show's crew first presented a signed jersey to Chiellini from Balotelli with the inscription: "Even if you unexpectedly stabbed me in the back, I still love you, man."

The duo were then connected via video chat and Balotelli began by cracking a joke. 

“It’s the first time in my life that you messed up and I didn’t!” the 29-year-old said. 

“I envied you! Because in life you have to make mistakes to improve,” replied Chiellini.

Balotelli admitted he was surprised to see that Chiellini referred to him as a "negative person."

"I didn't expect that from Giorgio," Balotelli said. "I'm not a negative person, I'm the one who always jokes."

The Juventus defender went on to say that he felt he needed to put some criticism in his book, having also called former team-mate Felipe Melo "the worst of the worst" and "a bad apple."

“I was undecided whether to put [criticism] in, but not saying anything is bad, it seemed to me to be false and hypocritical. I take full responsibility,” Chiellini said.

The centre-back, though, admitted that he went too far with his comments regarding Balotelli.

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"I made a mistake and I learned from it and will continue to learn from my mistakes every day," the 35-year-old said. 

Chiellini added that he would be more than happy if the pair end up as team-mates on Italy's squad for the European Championship next summer.

"It would be a pleasure! I have no problems," Chiellini said.