THE HAGUE • Eurovision Song Contest winner Duncan Laurence was welcomed by hundreds of fans at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Sunday.
The Dutch singer-songwriter handed the Netherlands its first victory in 44 years when he beat 25 other finalists at the latest edition held in Tel Aviv last Saturday night. The 25-year-old wooed audiences with his ballad, Arcade, about a break-up.
Italy finished second and Russia third in the results that combined votes from juries from participating countries as well as viewers at home. Dutch band Teach-In won the contest in 1975 with the song Ding-a-dong.
The plane that Laurence flew in landed at about 5pm local time at Schiphol Airport, where he received a hero's welcome by fans dressed in orange, the national colour. He also gave a press conference at the airport.
"I don't think the whole thing about writing history has landed already," Laurence said. "How does it feel? I have no idea. I have sung my song and this victory is such a big compliment. That's how I keep seeing it."
Laurence, whose real name is Duncan de Moor, reached the semifinals of reality television show The Voice Of Holland in 2014. However, he was a relatively unknown artist in the Netherlands before he was chosen to represent his country in the Eurovision Song Contest.
"We are proud of Duncan Laurence, who has conquered Europe with musical class... and is bringing Eurovision home next year," Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima said in a tweet shortly after the winner was announced.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte joined the chorus of praise, hailing the performance as "sublime and powerful".
More than 5.3 million Dutch viewers watched the live show, according to Dutch broadcaster Avrotros.
The largely European competition, which gifted Swedish supergroup Abba to the world, dates to the 1950s. Over the years, it has widened to include channels subscribing to the European Broadcasting Union and now spreads as far as Australia.
Laurence's win means the Netherlands will organise the contest next year.
Dutch cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Maastricht have thrown their hat in the ring on Sunday to host Eurovision next year.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA