Tumultuous homecoming for Euro champions Spain (Lead)

July 1st, 2008 - 11:00 am ICT by IANS  


Madrid, July 1 (IANS) The Spanish football team received a tumultuous reception here late Monday on their homecoming after winning the Euro 2008, EFE reports. Surrounded by all his teammates and coach Luis Aragones, team captain Iker Casillas raised the trophy before the tens of thousands of delirious fans who filled Madrid’s Colon Plaza.

Earlier, the authors of Spain’s greatest football success in recent times appeared in an open-top bus amid the cheers of the fans who excitedly pressed in close to their idols.

Colon Plaza was flooded with red - the team’s colour - for the party staged with the players who achieved Sunday’s 1-0 win over Germany in Vienna, without question the greatest triumph in Spanish soccer in the last 44 years.

With comedian Carlos Latre as master of ceremonies, amid constant diversions from a supposed script by the ongoing improvisation of the players, Casillas spoke up in the name of the team.

The captain dedicated the success to all of Spain, emphasizing the importance of Aragones in the victory, and joining his teammates in giving the traditional canticle with the name of the coach.

The veteran strategist was moved as the thousands of people jamming the plaza chanted “Luis”, but he put on a brave face and contained his emotions.

But the most celebrated moment of the evening fell to backup goalie Pepe Reina, playing his customary role of life of the party.

With his voice breaking from the effort, and the length of time he had gone without rest, he introduced each of the members of the Spanish squad, giving each man’s first name, to which the others responded in unison with an ovation and the surname.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets and plazas of cities across Spain late Sunday and into the wee hours Monday to celebrate the Eurocup triumph.

When Italian referee Roberto Rosetti blew his whistle to signal the end of the match, pandemonium broke out in cities across Spain.

Fans in some cities watched the match on giant television screens set up in plazas, which were filled with people singing and waving Spain’s red and yellow flag.

Barcelona, in northeast Spain, was the scene of a mass victory celebration, with fans crowding the Las Ramblas promenade and filling the area around the Canaletas Fountain with flags.

Soon after the match ended thousands of people headed into downtown Barcelona, chanting “Spain! Spain!” and dancing with joy.

Across the city, people set off firecrackers to mark the win and took to their balconies, shouting “1-0!”

Streets in the southern city of Andalusia were deserted during the match, with residents crowding plazas, bars and restaurants to watch Spain take on Germany.

People poured into the streets after Spain’s victory was secured, singing songs amid the noise made by jubilant drivers who honked their horns.

Thousands of fans took to the streets in the eastern city of Valencia to celebrate the Spanish squad’s win with firecrackers and shouts.

Chants of “I Am Spanish!” and “Champions, Champions!” could be heard in the streets of Spain’s third-largest city, where fans carried signs that said, “Thank God I’m Spanish” and “Spain, Champion”.

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