Champions return: Heroes’ welcome for Germany

Thousands of fans line up for a glimpse of the 2014 winners.

Afp July 15, 2014


More than 250,000 jubilant fans massed at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on Tuesday to cheer the World Cup winners and new national heroes bringing home football’s top prize for the first time to a reunified Germany.

The flag-waving crowd erupted in applause after screens showed the flight bringing the triumphant players to the German capital from Rio de Janeiro.

Crowds began forming in central Berlin before dawn and thousands of more supporters gathered on a viewing platform under warm summer sunshine at Tegel airport to meet the plane, a Lufthansa jet rebranded ‘Fanhansa’ for the occasion on one side and ‘Victors’ Plane’ on the other.

Captain Philipp Lahm was the first player to emerge, clutching the golden Fifa trophy and lifting it in the direction of applauding supporters.

“This is an historic event,” said 34-year-old bus driver Bernd Hesse, who managed to follow all the matches in Brazil on the radio when he was behind the wheel.

He noted that Germany fans had waited 24 years to bask in the glory of a World Cup victory, the first since the reunification of the country following three wins by the former West Germany.

“It’s not every day that you get to see something like this,” he said.

Ecstatic fans lined the route as black buses ferried the players to central Berlin, construction workers waved from building scaffoldings and dozens of cyclists followed the motorcade, their bicycles draped with Germany banners.

Once they arrived in the city centre, the players boarded an open-top truck and some sipped from beer bottles as they waved to the adoring masses.

Players tweeted photos of the fans, with Mesut Ozil writing, “What a crowd! Unbelievable!”

Home crowd cheers for Argentina

A crestfallen Lionel Messi kept a low profile as thousands welcomed the Argentina squad home on Monday after a World Cup final defeat to Germany.

Television networks carried live coverage of the Aerolineas Argentinas plane – painted in the blue-and-white colors of the flag with the words ‘Thank you Argentina’ – as it touched down in Buenos Aires, where about 500 fans braved the cold to meet the flight from Rio de Janeiro.

Thousands more fans lined the team’s route from the airport, waving flags and swarming the convoy of three buses, which moved at a snail’s pace through the crowds.

Nationwide, the atmosphere was one of pride as much as disappointment after the team forced Germany into extra time in a hard-fought 1-0 match in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium.

“I just want to thank everyone for the welcome,” Messi, who spent much of the day with a pained look on his face, told a reception with president Cristina Kirchner at the offices of the Argentine Football Association.

“I would have liked to have brought home the Cup and enjoyed it with you [the country]. We gave everything we had, but we just didn’t manage it.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2014.

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