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Photos: Argentines euphoric with the return of the World Cup winners

Hundreds of thousands (millions by some estimates) of Argentines dance, cry and cheer, flooding the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday to celebrate the World Cup-winning soccer team led by Lionel Messi after their plane landed in the hours before dawn. .

The team arrived at the Ezeiza airport at dawn where, despite being close to 03:00 (06:00 GMT), thousands were waiting with banners, flags and flares, and howled with joy after 36 years since the country’s last victory in the World.

Around noon, hundreds of thousands had gathered in downtown Buenos Aires, with the main roads closed for the parade. People held banners of Messi and the late icon Diego Maradona, played instruments or climbed light poles or bus shelters.

“It’s crazy, it’s incredible, it’s the best thing that can happen to you in life,” said Matías Gómez, 25, a metalworker.

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“It is an enormous joy to see all these happy people, all together, with each other, holding hands, giving each other hugs, kisses. We are all one today.”

The Argentine capital has been in party mode since a dramatic win over France in Sunday’s final in Qatar, helping to mask economic woes in the South American nation battling one of the world’s highest rates of inflation.

The victory, in a penalty shootout after a whistling match, made the country world champions for the first time since Diego Maradona lifted the trophy in 1986 and the third overall. The government made Tuesday a national holiday to allow fans to celebrate the victory.

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The players, after spending a few hours at the Argentine Football Association (AFA) facilities near the airport, set off in an open-top bus with signs reading “World Champions” and three stars to mark the country’s trio of trophies.

The players danced and cheered with the fans who surrounded the bus. Police had to hold people back to allow the vehicle to proceed on its slow journey towards the center of the city.

Earlier, Messi, 35, who has polished his reputation as one of the best players in the world, sent a message on Instagram saying “Good morning!” with a photo of him sleeping in his room at the AFA complex next to the golden trophy.

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Lionel Messi of Argentina lies on the bed with the FIFA World Cup trophy
Lionel Messi of Argentina lies on the bed with the FIFA World Cup trophy [Instagram/Leo Messi/via Reuters]

Messi has said that the final, in which Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties after brilliant extra time ended 3-3, would be his last game at the World Cup, although he intends to play a few games. More with the national team. .

At times, it has felt like the entire country has been partying all night from Sunday onwards in the southern hemisphere summer, the joy of victory infecting everyone with cars regularly honking their horns in celebration.

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