Clarence Seedorf arrived in Italy on Wednesday evening to a hero's welcome ahead of his official unveiling as AC Milan's new coach.
The Rossoneri were leading Spezia 3-0 when the biggest applause of the night was reserved for the new boss. The Dutchman made his return to the San Siro following a transatlantic flight which saw him not only cross several time zones, but also make the transition from footballer to coach.
He arrived in Milan's Linate airport to be immediately surrounded by hordes of fans and reporters, pronouncing his first words as new Milan boss.
"I'm very emotional and feel a sense of duty," the 37-year-old told reporters. "I left Milan in May 2012, closing a cycle. My job now is to reopen another one."
Milan are languishing in 11th place in Serie A, 10 points adrift of the top five and a place in Europe next season. He could therefore have a lot to thank caretaker Mauro Tassotti for with the Coppa Italia perhaps offering the easiest route into Europe next season -- Wednesday night's 3-1 win set up a quarterfinal tie with Udinese.
Tassotti kept the bench warm for just the one game following Massimiliano Allegri's dismissal on Monday. Seedorf will take his place against Hellas Verona on Sunday night.
"We've got a lot of hard work ahead to take Milan back to the top again," Seedorf said. "I'm delighted. Two years ago, president [Silvio] Berlusconi predicted everything. It can't be said that I've come back because I never truly left. To see all of this enthusiasm is crucial for me."
He was given a warm embrace by the club's general manager, Adriano Galliani, on his arrival at the San Siro, as the pair resumed their working relationship after little over 18 months of separation. Their paths had crossed only a few weeks ago in Brazil for what Galliani claimed was just a casual meeting.
There, the first foundations were laid for Seedorf to become Milan coach in the summer. A 4-3 defeat to Sassuolo on Sunday night meant Milan could no longer wait that long to make a change.
"We can aim to do great things for the fans," Seedorf said to Milan Channel at the San Siro. "I've got to give 100 percent to rebuild the squad and to give them enthusiasm and self-belief."
Apart from climbing Serie A during the second half of the season, Seedorf will also be looking to take the Rossoneri as far as they can in the Champions League, a competition he won twice for them as a player. Italy's only remaining club in that competition face Atletico Madrid in the last 16.