BERLIN (AFP) - Tens of thousands of jubilant Germany fans massed at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on Tuesday awaiting the arrival of the World Cup winners with a giant heroes’ welcome.
A flight bringing the triumphant players to the German capital took off with a delay from Rio de Janeiro and was due to land at around 4.30pm, an airport spokesman said.
Crowds began massing in central Berlin before dawn and thousands more supporters gathered on a viewing platform under warm summer sunshine at Tegel airport to meet the plane, a Lufthansa jet rebranded “Fanhansa” for the team. “This is a historic event,” said 34-year-old bus driver Bernd Hesse, who managed to follow all the matches in Brazil on the radio when he was behind the wheel.
He noted that Germany fans had waited 24 years to bask in the glory of a World Cup victory, the first since the reunification of the country.
“It’s not every day that you get to see something like this,” he said. Lydia Lampa, a 28-year-old advertising executive, stopped by the airport with a friend on her way to work.
Wearing a Germany jersey adorned with the coveted fourth star for the latest World Cup win and a Hawaiian-style garland of plastic flowers in the national colours black, red and gold, she said she had watched every World Cup match featuring the Mannschaft.
“This is my way of saying thank you,” she said. “All the games were exciting and I wanted to see the players at least once live. I had a good feeling from the start of the tournament and I though, ‘OK, this time we’re going to win’.”
A bus will ferry the Mannschaft to central Berlin.
After meeting Mayor Klaus Wowereit, they will mount a giant stage at the Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of German unity since the country ended its Cold War division in 1990. That was the last year a German team won the tournament and Sunday’s nail-biter 1-0 win over Argentina marked the first time that a side representing both the west and the former communist east brought home the trophy.
More than 250,000 fans had rallied behind the German side on the so-called Fan Mile behind the Gate late Sunday and a similar turnout was expected Tuesday to watch the players and trainer Joachim Loew hoist the trophy.