Argentina’s World Cup winners arrive home to party

Thousands of fans have gathered in the early hours to try to get a glimpse of the Argentina soccer team that won one of the greatest World Cup finals ahead 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, outside Argentina’s capital, shortly before 3am on Tuesday onto a red carpet that had been rolled out.

Messi was the first player to emerge 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 which 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 world champions 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 before heading to the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association.

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.

The players were to sleep at AFA headquarters for a few hours before boarding the bus later on Tuesday that will take them to the Obelisk, the iconic Buenos Aires landmark that was a sea of people on Sunday afternoon after the team won the country’s third World Cup, and its first since 1986.

President Alberto Fernández declared a national holiday on Tuesday so the country could celebrate the victory.

The day after the victory the streets of Argentina turned into massive parties, and 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.

Several players posted photos of the plane ride on social media.

Messi held the World Cup on the plane.

Nicolás Tagliafico, meanwhile, posted a photo of the World Cup buckled into an aeroplane seat as if it were just another passenger.

The World Cup and the success of the Messi-led squad has brought much-needed good news for a country that has been stuck in economic doldrums for years, is suffering one of the world’s highest inflation rates, and where almost four in 10 people live in poverty.

Fernández retweeted several messages of congratulations for the World Cup victory from other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Thank you for this greeting President Putin,” Fernández wrote on Twitter after a telephone call with the Russian leader.

“Let the happiness that today unites Argentina with so many countries in the world serve as an example: Our societies need unity and peace.”


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