French fans give hero welcome to 'Les Bleus' World Cup champions

Tuesday, 2018-07-17 07:47:38
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France's national soccer team players take pictures with their mobile phones as they celebrate with teammates and the trophy on the roof of a bus while parading down the Champs-Elysee avenue after winning the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match, in Paris, France, on July 16, 2018. (Photo: Pool via Reuters)
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Hundreds of thousands of ecstatic French fans celebrated the return of their World Cup winning football team on Monday, jumping and chanting “We Are The Champions” as their bus paraded down the Champs Elysees before a special presidential reception.

“Les Bleus”, a dynamic, young team that won an open, fast-paced final 4-2 with Croatia in Moscow, appeared at the Elysee palace, where they burst into a spontaneous rendition of the “La Marseillaise” national anthem with President Emmanuel Macron and his wife.

“Thank you for having made us proud,” Macron told the players in the presidential palace’s gardens. “Never forget where you come from: all the clubs across France that trained you.”

French media spent the day lauding the team’s accomplishments.

France team bus and fans during the parade. (Photo: Reuters)

More than 300,000 people filled the Champs Elysees, the area around the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde on Sunday night, partying into the early hours, singing the Marseillaise, setting off firecrackers and blaring horns until the sun rose.

Newspapers hailed a second World Cup for France, after their first victory on home soil in 1998.

“History Made” declared sports daily L’Equipe. Photos of superstars Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba, as well as shots of the team holding aloft and kissing the trophy in the pouring rain, dominated coverage.

The Paris metro system got into the celebratory mood, announcing the names of a number of stations were being briefly changed to honour the players and coach, Didier Deschamps.

Notre-Dame des Champs station was relabeled “Notre Didier Deschamps”, and Victor Hugo was switched to “Victor Hugo Lloris” after the captain and goalkeeper.

France team bus and fans during the parade. (Photo: Reuters)

On Twitter, Brazilian legend Pele paid tribute to the exploits of Mbappe, France’s 19-year-old superstar, saying that if the teenager kept equaling his goal-scoring records, Pele might have to strap his boots back on.

Mbappe replied to the tweet in English saying “The king will always remain the king”, quickly gaining 15,000 retweets.

The team is scheduled to arrive back in France at around 14:30 GMT, before a parade down the Champs Elysees and a formal victory reception with Macron at the Elysee Palace.

And it is not just the capital that has been consumed by football fever. From Nice and Marseille in the south to Lille in the north, Nantes in the west and scores of towns and cities in between, TV stations were full of images of red, white and blue clad fans singing and dancing in France’s streets and squares.

France's fans wave French national flag, light flares and cheer France's team players as they celebrate on the roof of a bus. (Photo: Pool via Reuters)

General view during the parade. (Photo: Reuters)

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron pose with France soccer team captain Hugo Lloris holding the trophy, coach Didier Deschamps and players before a reception. (Photo: Reuters)

France's fans wave French national flag, light flares and cheer France's team players as they celebrate on the roof of a bus. (Photo: Pool via Reuters)

France team bus and fans during the parade. (Photo: Reuters)

Reuters
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