Spain land in Madrid with Cup to start festivities

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MADRID (Reuters) - Spain captain Iker Casillas was first out of the airplane and held the World Cup aloft at the top of the steps as the team arrived back in Madrid for the start of the official celebrations Monday.

Spain won the World Cup for the first time, beating Netherlands 1-0 after extra time in South Africa Sunday, and soon after were winging their way back home.

The plane landed at Madrid’s Barajas airport at about 1400 GMT where they were greeted by hundreds of airport workers who were waving flags and chanting “Champions” in temperatures that were touching 40 degrees Celsuis (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

The squad quickly boarded a bus on the apron and were taken to a hotel in the city center to change in preparation for an audience with King Juan Carlos, who had been unable to attend the final in Johannesburg on doctors’ orders after an illness.

After that, the team will meet Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who was also unable to make it to Soccer City stadium, before setting off round the streets of the capital in an open-topped bus.

The bus tour finishes at a specially erected stage on the banks of the river Manzanares where the party will get underway from about 2000 GMT in front of thousands of fans, many of whom were already taking up their places.

Writing by Mark Elkington; Editing by Sonia Oxley