Some 34 hours after clinching their fourth FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 victory against Argentina, Germany landed in Berlin to be greeted by a spectacular reception from around half a million joyful fans on the streets and at the Brandenburg Gate.
The celebrations climaxed today in the German capital, where the scenes resembled those that followed the home World Cup in 2006. This time, though, the Nationalmannschaft were able to present their supporters with the precious trophy.
The party had already started several hours before the squad's arrival, with the premium spots near the stage just in front of the Brandenburg Gate already taken at 06.00CET. After a performance by German singing sensation Helene Fischer, all eyes were glued to the sky when the team plane flew just 600m above the party zone in what felt like a truly special lap of honour.
Following touchdown at shortly after 10.00, the trophy was finally back on German soil. "The flight was quite welcome for most of us because we could catch up on some sleep after the party last night," Bastian Schweinsteiger said upon disembarking. Although all the players were looking somewhat tired, Thomas Müller promised a party "where we'll put in just as much hard work as during the matches".
In the final stage of an eight-week journey, which had begun with a training camp in the South Tirol region of Italy, the squad – now with cold drinks in hand – changed from a bus to an open truck and made their way through the packed streets of the capital. "I don't think anything can result in such a sense of unity as this World Cup victory," said Wolfgang Niersbach, president of the German Football Association (DFB).
It took some time for the truck to manoeuvre its way to the final destination. The biggest-ever football celebration in Germany then took a small break when the players stepped off the bus to make an entry into the Golden Book of Berlin. What ensued was a party – in terms of creativity and entertainment – to rival their sporting displays in Brazil. The players showed off a few choreographed chants and dance moves, preferring to keep their speeches as short as possible as most had lost their voice at some point in the proceedings.
"It was a long and sometimes tough path to the title, but we are here," said coach Joachim Löw. "
We had huge team spirit and ambition, but without these fans we wouldn't be here. We are all world champions." Lukas Podolski, one of the leaders of the festivities, described the sunny morning in Berlin as "the most awesome moment of my career".
Schweinsteiger, one of the last players to leave the platform, added: "We are enjoying this moment a lot, especially because we have the cup with us this time. The reception we have received from the people of Berlin is incredible. We were here in 2006 and it was great then, but now we have a fourth star on our shirt."
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