World Cup: Germany welcomes conquering heroes home

Huge crowds in Berlin greeted the German team, who danced on stage

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Tens of thousands of German football fans have given a heroes' welcome to the World Cup-winning team in Berlin.

The main celebrations were at the Brandenburg Gate, where players displayed the cup on a large stage while performing an impromptu dance.

Many had gathered since dawn to welcome the players, who touched down from Brazil on Tuesday morning. Huge crowds lined their bus route into the capital.

It was the fourth German cup win and the first since reunification in 1990.

Berlin transformed

The team's 1-0 victory over Argentina in Sunday's final sparked delirious scenes across Germany, culminating in Tuesday's celebrations in central Berlin.

The team arrived in an open-top bus emblazoned with the years they have won the competition - 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014.

The BBC's Lucy Hockings in Berlin says there was a carnival atmosphere in the city, with thousands taking the day off to witness the spectacle even though Tuesday is not officially a holiday.

German national soccer coach Joachim Loew waves to fans after the arrival of the German soccer squad in Berlin Many waited since dawn to see coach Joachim Loew's team arrive in central Berlin with the much-coveted trophy

Speaking on the stage near the Brandenburg Gate, coach Joachim Loew paid tribute to his team and the German people for their part in its victory.

"For our sakes the fans suffered with us. They were nervous with us. In the end they cheered with us. Without you we would not be here," he said.

Mario Goetze, the man who scored the winning goal on Sunday, said the experience of winning the cup was "dreamlike".

German fans cheer as the national team rides in an open-deck bus in central Berlin (14 July 2014) The German team showed no signs of jet lag as they greeted adoring fans
Members of the German team with the World cup in hand get off their plane after it arrived in Berlin Players disembarked from their plane with the World Cup trophy prominently on display
Fans cheer as the plane carrying the German national soccer team flies over the "fan mile" public viewing zone before landing at Tegel airport (14 July 2014) The team's Boeing 747 flew a lap of honour over the "fan mile" in front of the landmark Brandenburg Gate

Earlier fans gathered on a viewing stage at Tegel airport to witness the arrival of the plane, a Lufthansa jet rebranded "Fanhansa" for the team.

"This is a historic event," 34-year-old supporter Bernd Hesse told AFP news agency.

He said that fans of the team had waited 24 years for a German World Cup victory.

Fans arrive to to welcome the German national soccer team in Berlin (15 July 2014) Demand for replica World Cup shirts - especially those with four stars on to mark the country's fourth title - has reached an all-time high
German fans gather in front of a stage installed for a victory parade of the national football team at Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate (15 July 2014) The cup win has been celebrated by a wide cross-section of German society, especially younger people who have been out on the streets in force to celebrate

Those members of the team who play for Bayern Munich will also get a separate welcome parade in Munich later.

The BBC's Steve Evans in Berlin says that Berlin was transformed for the arrival, with the old sponsors' logos for the tournament torn down and new ones for the homecoming put up.

Commercial opportunities were maximised, our correspondent says.

The German victory in Brazil was the first time the competition had been won in South America by a European nation.

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