German team welcomed home by 300,000 fans

German Football
By German Football July 1, 2008 07:14

German team welcomed home by 300,000 fans

More than 300,000 Germany fans welcomed their defeated team home on Monday at a colourful ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Monday, paying tribute to the runners-up of Euro 2008.

Waving black, red and gold German flags, crowds packed a fan mile in front of the Berlin landmark monument at the start of a public viewing area that stretched two kilometres west to the ‘Victory Column’. Some 600,000 fans watched the finals of the Euro here.

‘It’s disappointing to go so far in the tournament, get to the final and then lose,’ captain Michael Ballack told the big crowd after the team returned from Vienna. ‘That’s always bitter.’ But Ballack, who has now lost in a total of 10 final matches in his club and international career, said that the team had felt the support from the huge crowds that filled public viewing venues across Germany all the way to their hotel in Switzerland.

‘I don’t think we’d have gone so far without these great fans,’ Ballack said. ‘We all saw the TV pictures of what was going on back here and it felt like we had an extra man on the pitch all the time.’

The squad’s plane from the Austrian capital even made a series of low-flying passes over central Berlin to get a closer look at the crowd packed into the center of the German capital, which included thousands of children missing school to be present. Draped in the national colors and flags in a relaxed display of German patriotism unimaginable just a few years ago, many held placards thanking them for a thrilling run to the final.

‘We were all pretty sad last night but I think we achieved a lot with second place and I think we can all be proud that we were in the final,’ coach Joachim Loew said. ‘Spain were a great team throughout the tournament and they were a class act last night. But if we meet Spain in a tournament again, we’ll beat them next time.’

Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann admitted giving away the goal was going to haunt him. ‘That’s one I wish I could have stopped,’ Lehmann said. ‘It’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life. But even though we lost it’s still great that the people are so enthusiastic.’

Team mate Bastian Schweinsteiger said: ‘This feels really good to be here after the deep disappointment last night. It helps the healing process.’

The hour-long tribute, broadcast live nationwide on several networks, included rock music and short interviews with all 23 players on the team. It was concluded with the traditional beer shower.

There was a similar tribute for Germany after the 2006 World Cup. But the spirit was clearly better there after the team had won the match for third place against Portugal the night before. This time, the defeat in the finals was still fresh on the minds of everyone present.

German Football
By German Football July 1, 2008 07:14
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