Ecstatic Berlin crowds welcome victorious German team home
By Madeline Chambers and Anja Nilsson
BERLIN (Reuters) - About a million jubilant Germans welcomed their triumphant national soccer team home to Berlin on Tuesday, many waving flags and banners saying "We are all World Champions!" as they basked in the nation's fourth World Cup victory.
Hundreds of thousands of revelers packed Berlin's "fan mile", a 1.3 km stretch of road running from the west of the capital up to the Brandenburg Gate, for a huge party. Many more lined the streets in the city center along the team's route.
The players danced and sang their way onto a stage at the Gate, a potent symbol of the Cold War, dressed in black T-shirts with the number 1 emblazoned on them and threw footballs into the crowd.
"Without you we wouldn't be here. We are all world champions," low-key coach Joachim Loew, affectionately known as Jogi, told the fans, many of them holding red posters with the words "Thanks Boys".
Young and old fans alike were decked out in Germany shirts, many with their faces painted black, red and gold and with wigs and bandanas in the national colors. Many had started drinking beer hours before the team's arrival from Brazil.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it's something to remember," said Sabine Kopf, 42, who traveled by train from the western city of Cologne with her husband and 11-year-old son who wore a shirt with "Jogi's Joker" on the back.
A black open-roofed bus drove the players, who jumped, screamed, waved and held up the golden World Cup trophy, through the streets of Berlin at a snail's pace for about 2-1/2 hours.
"I am really excited to welcome the World Cup winners during my lifetime. I am from East Germany and this is important," said Guenther Richter, 51, from East Berlin. Continued...