Argentina’s World Cup winners have been given an emotional reception by thousands lining the streets of Buenos Aires, as Lionel Messi led ecstatic celebrations in a open-top bus parade.
The squad showed off the trophy, which they won by beating France in Sunday’s final, as they started an eight-hour ride through the capital city.
The Argentine government declared a national holiday on Tuesday.
Hundreds of thousands gathered at Buenos Aires’ iconic Obelisk monument.
With the majority of the jubilant fans wearing the national team’s blue and white, it is a sea of colour in Plaza de la República – the public square where the Obelisk stands – as they wait for the squad in the place where the parade is set to finish.
Banners were held aloft of captain Messi and the late Diego Maradona – another iconic Argentine player regarded as one of the greatest players ever – while other fans played instruments or climbed lampposts.
After arriving home from Qatar in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the players left the Argentine Football Association (AFA) training complex on a 20-mile journey to the centre of Buenos Aires 11:45 local time (14:45 GMT).
Hundreds of fans lined the streets – with many riding scooters and running behind the bus on a motorway – as the parade made its way towards Plaza de la República.
“It’s crazy, it’s incredible, it’s the best thing that can happen to you in life,” said Matias Gomez, 25, a metalworker.
“It is an enormous joy to see all these happy people, all together, one with the other, holding hands, giving each other hugs, kisses. We are all one today.”
Paris St-Germain forward Messi, who captained the side and cemented his place for many as the greatest footballer ever by lifting the World Cup, sat in the middle of a group of the squad on the top deck.
Earlier on Tuesday, he posted on Instagram showing him waking up alongside the trophy.
Argentina has been in party mode since Sunday’s dramatic penalty shootout win against France in Qatar, which gave the country its first World Cup win since Maradona lifted the trophy 36 years ago.
Messi, 35, finally achieved his World Cup dream as La Albiceleste won their third crown in one of the greatest finals in the tournament’s history.
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