Buenos Aires, December 20
Thousands of fans lined up in the middle of the night to try to get a glimpse of the Argentina football team that won one of the greatest World Cup finals of all time ahead of what is scheduled to be a day of celebrations in Buenos Aires.
Members of the team, led by captain Lionel Messi, were all smiles as they descended from the plane in Ezeiza, right outside Argentina's capital, shortly before 3 am today onto a red carpet that had been rolled out for the squad.
Messi was the first player from the plane carrying the World Cup, flanked by coach Lionel Scaloni, who put his arm around the captain as they walked past a sign that read, "Thank you, champions."
The players were welcomed by rock band La Mosca singing ‘Muchachos’, a song that was written by a fan to the tune of an old song by the band and became a popular unofficial anthem for Argentine fans at the World Cup in Qatar.
The newly crowned champions of the world boarded an open-top bus and several, including Messi, could be seen singing the words to Muchachos while they waited for everyone to get on to travel to the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association (AFA).
The bus moved at a snail's pace as fans, many of whom were waving Argentine flags, swarmed the bus on a highway, eager for a glimpse of the players as law enforcement officers tried to keep them at bay.
Throughout the trip, Messi held on the World Cup as players waved to fans and often sang along with them.
It took the bus around one hour to travel approximately 11km from the airport to AFA headquarters, where the players were welcomed with fireworks. President Alberto Fernandez declared a national holiday today so the country could celebrate the victory.
The day after the streets of Argentina turned into massive parties following the Sunday victory, many kept a close eye on the flight that brought the players home to celebrate. As the plane got closer to Argentine soil, almost 200,000 people were tracking its path online and news channels gave live coverage of the arrival.
In the afternoon, people started arriving at the airport and outside the AFA headquarters in hopes of getting a glimpse of the team.
Many were also already at the Obelisk, seemingly ready to spend the night there to ensure a prime spot for the festivities. — AP
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