World Cup winners Germany touched down on home soil yesterday morning as they returned to Berlin with the much-coveted top prize in football.
Captain Philipp Lahm led his champions from the aircraft shortly after 10am local time, followed by Bastian Schweinsteiger who was wearing the German flag, and the team were greeted by excited fans trying to get a glimpse of the trophy as they made their way through the airport.
During their 11-hour flight it was reported in newspaper Bild that the Germany players managed to get some rest after partying on Monday to celebrate their fourth World Cup triumph following a reported two-hour delay after a baggage carrier had touched the plane.
Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil was delighted to touch down on home turf, and said on his Twitter account: “back in the country of the world champions :-) #DFBTeam #happy.”
Thousands of supporters lined the Fan Mile in the centre of Berlin as the team and manager Joachim Löw, who were all dressed in identical winners T-shirts, took to an open-top truck to parade the World Cup trophy and show off their medals on their homecoming.
On the side of the black Mercedes truck was painted the years of Germany’s triumphs at the biggest tournament in world football, “1954, 1974, 1990, 2014!” The president of the German Football Association (DFB) Wolfgang Niersbach was excited about the reception for the squad: “This is a dream. Seeing this enthusiasm,” he said. “I do not know what in our country more can trigger this sense of belonging as this World Cup. Our players are looking forward incredibly to enjoy this moment.”
Germany coach Löw held the trophy aloft as the truck slowly made its way through the thick crowds with hundreds of fans following behind as they hailed their heroes. The team were euphoric as they were welcomed by the Berlin crowds and Özil tweeted again and posted photographs of the cheering crowds beside the River Spree, and said: “what a crowd! unbelievable! #GER #Berlin #Fanmeile.”
The sea of fans chanted “Deutschland, Deutschland, Deutschland!” as the truck continued through the city streets to the Brandenburg Gate.
“It’s beautiful. It feels very good, it’s all gone perfectly for us,” Andre Schürrle told sportbild.bild.de.
While Toni Kroos added: “It was a great World Cup.”
When the truck reached the Brandenburg Gate, where a stage covered in green carpet had been erected to welcome the players, the waiting crowds were delighted to catch a glimpse of their returning heroes and the trophy shining in the Berlin sunshine.
As part of the entertainment during the victory celebrations, Lahm snuck out behind four of his team-mates, who were walking with bowed heads and arms behind their backs as their captain concealed the prize.
The players walked ahead of him along the raised platform – as if it was a catwalk – and the quartet then suddenly fell to the ground while the Germany skipper lifted the trophy aloft to cheering and applause from the gathered crowds.
The DFB wrote on its Twitter account, above a photograph of the stunt: “The last WG – where is the captain? Where is Philipp Lahm?”
The squad then continued to celebrate as they danced about and played air-guitar, then kicked out mini replicas of the World Cup football into the mass of supporters in the centre of the German capital before they began to do the conga around the stage, led by Schweinsteiger who was holding the trophy into the air.
Thomas Müller posted a photograph of himself in front of the jubilant gathered crowd on Twitter, and said: “Waaaaaaaahhhhnnnnnssiiiiiiinnn! Thank you for this great reception! Dear fans, you are a champion!”
Some of Germany’s World Cup winners were then honoured again at more celebrations in Munich last night.
Bayern’s winners Lahm, Müller, Manuel Neuer, Mario Götze, Schweinsteiger and Kroos were joined by Lazio striker Miroslav Klose and Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels in the Bavarian capital. They were greeted at Munich airport by State Premier Horst Seehofer and another huge crowd of delirious wellwishers.
Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger is targeting further glory with Germany after finally winning his first major trophy with the national side.
Ever since he made his international debut in 2004, Schweinsteiger had become used to just coming up short in major tournaments.
Of the five he played in prior to Brazil, Schweinsteiger reached the semi-finals on three occasions and at Euro 2008 he was a member of the Germany team that lost to Spain.
All that changed on Sunday night, though, when he and his team-mates beat Argentina 1-0 to win the World Cup in the Estádio Maracana.
Schweinsteiger does not want this to be the last time he lifts a trophy, however. With a young squad in place, he feels there is plenty of potential there for Germany to go on and win more silverware in the near future.
“This will give us hunger now, absolutely,” the midfielder said. “We want to do it again at the next tournament. The important thing is that the young guys have the experience of this tournament and we will go to France (for Euro 2016) and try and do it again for sure.
“It won’t be easy because we have a young team. But we have some players like Philipp Lahm, Mesut Özil and Per Mertesacker who have the experience. This mix makes a big difference.”
No European nation had previously lifted the famous trophy on South American soil in four attempts. Schweinsteiger added: “We are the first European team to win the title in South America, the first team from Europe so it has been special.”