A million fans greet European champions in Barcelona

May 29th, 2009 - 1:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Thierry Henry Barcelona, May 29 (DPA) One million euphoric fans cheered the Barcelona squad - the winner of a historic treble this season - in a triumphant parade through the streets of the Catalan city.
The club’s red-and-blue flag fluttered from the plane that Thursday flew the footballers back from Rome, where they beat Manchester United 2-0 Wednesday in the Champions League final.

Coach Josep Guardiola and captain Carles Puyol were the first to leave the aircraft, carrying the trophy.

Club President Joan Laporta followed and proceeded to pop a huge bottle of champagne, which all the players used to soak themselves as they launched into the celebration of an historic treble, with recent titles in La Liga and the King’s Cup capped by the Champions League.

Riding in open-topped buses, the players toured Barcelona’s main streets - festooned with Barca’s colours - for about four hours before entering the Camp Nou stadium, which was packed with 100,000 fans.

The front of the buses said “Tri-champions” for the first Spanish club - and only the fifth ever in Europe - to achieve the treble.

Daniel Alves, Gerard Pique, Victor Valdes, Thierry Henry and Carles Puyol were among the players who seemed to enjoy the ride most. Guardiola and midfielder Andres Iniesta kept their usual low profiles.

The gates to the Camp Nou opened two hours before the players arrived to let in a huge crowd of fans. Inside, they were entertained with a show of music and fireworks, as they awaited the squad’s arrival.

Inside the packed Camp Nou all three trophies were displayed for the fans. All of the players made brief speeches, mostly in Catalan, thanking the fans for their support throughout the season.

At 38 one of the youngest coaches ever to win the Champions League, Guardiola said: “You are the best supporters in the world.”

He wound up the party with the traditional cry of “Visca el Barca!”

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