German football team given heroes’ welcome

BERLIN: Hundreds of thousands of jubilant fans massed at Berlin´s Brandenburg Gate Tuesday to cheer the World Cup winners and new national heroes bringing home football´s top prize for the first time to a reunified Germany.

The flag-waving crowd, which began gathering before dawn, erupted in applause under warm summer sunshine when the triumphant players arrived from Rio de Janeiro.

Germany coach Joachim Loew told more than 250,000 supporters at the so-called Fan Mile stretching behind the Gate, the symbol of national unity, that they shared the title with his players.

Captain Philipp Lahm hoisted the World Cup trophy to a giant roar from the crowd.

Team members wearing black shirts emblazoned with the number one took the stage in groups to greet ecstatic supporters. They carried a long banner reading “Obrigado Fans”, “thank you” in Portuguese in a nod to tournament hosts Brazil, and “the fourth title is ours”.
Mario Goetze, who scored the only goal in Sunday´s nail-biter final against Argentina, called the Mannschaft´s win “a dream”.

“We played an amazing tournament,” he said. “It´s an incredible feeling.”Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger appeared with the black, red and gold German flag draped from his shoulders, with a bandage still affixed below his eye from an injury he suffered in a clash during the final.
The players jumped and danced in a raucous circle on the stage, singing “this is how the Germans win, this is how the Germans win”.
The team arrived in the late morning at Berlin´s Tegel airport on a Lufthansa jet rebranded “Fanhansa” for the occasion on one side and “Victors´ Plane” on the other, with thousands of fans waiting on a viewing platform.

Fans had lined the team´s route as black buses ferried the players to central Berlin from the airport, while construction workers waved from scaffoldings and dozens of cyclists followed the motorcade, their bicycles draped with Germany banners.