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Italian World Cup Champions Return Home to Hero's Welcome


Enthusiastic Italians welcomed home their national team after their victory over France at the World Cup Championship in Germany. Rivers of people waving the Italian flag flocked to the Circus Maximus in Rome for a night of celebration with the team.

For the second night in a row, Italians celebrated the World Cup win of their national soccer team in Berlin. Monday night, the celebrations were with the team, which was given a heroes' welcome by hundreds of thousands of fans.

Air force planes decorated the sky with the colors of the Italian flag - green, white and red - as the Azzurri landed at a military airport on the coast outside of Rome. Thousands of Italians had gathered there to greet them.

The first to emerge from the plane was team captain Fabio Cannavaro clutching the long-awaited golden trophy. The crowd cheered. Then the team was driven to central Rome on buses, as hundreds of cars honked their horns.

The Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi received the team and thanked the players for reminding young people that results come only with hard work, sweat and commitment. And - referring to the soccer scandal rocking Italy - he also thanked them for having given back to soccer the dignity that it deserves.

Outside, in the streets of Rome and at Circus Maximus, where the celebrations had been planned, delirious fans waited for hours to see their champions, who brought the cup back to Italy after 24 years.

The team made its way through the streets of Rome in an open-air bus. Hundreds of thousands of supporters waved the Italian tricolor flag. At Circus Maximus, thousands more were singing and dancing when the team arrived to celebrate with them.

Everyone sang the national anthem together and the party went on for hours. For those who were there, it was an unforgettable experience.

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