BERLIN (AP) — Germany's World Cup winners shared their fourth title with hundreds of thousands of fans by parading the trophy through cheering throngs to celebrate at the Brandenburg Gate on Tuesday.
An estimated 400,000 people packed the "fan mile" in front of the Berlin landmark to welcome home coach Joachim Loew's team and the trophy — which returned to Germany for the first time in 24 years. It crowned years of work by Loew to modernize the team, and followed a string of near misses at recent tournaments.
"We're all world champions!" Loew told the crowd.
"Of course, it was a long way to the title, and an incredibly tough one in the end. But we're incredibly happy to be here with the fans now."
Mario Goetze, the scorer in the 1-0 win over Argentina in the final on Sunday, was greeted with deafening cheers by the sea of fans waving black, red and gold Germany flags.
Midfielder Toni Kroos led the crowd in a chant of "Miro Klose" — a tribute to veteran striker Miroslav Klose, whose two goals took his World Cup tally to 16 and made him the tournament's all-time leading scorer.
The team plane landed at Tegel Airport in midmorning after flying low over the "fan mile" — which by then had been packed for hours, with some waiting overnight to get places at the front.
Captain Philipp Lahm led the team off the aircraft holding the trophy aloft, to cheers and a chorus of "Football's Coming Home" from fans on the airport's viewing terrace.
He was followed by midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, draped in a German flag and sporting a bandage under his right eye, the result of a cut in the final.
From the airport, the team set off on a two-hour trip to downtown Berlin in a bus painted with the years of Germany's World Cup victories: The previous occasions were in 1954, 1974 and 1990.
The team donned matching black T-shirts with "1'' on the front and climbed aboard an open-top truck for the last part of the trip to the Brandenburg Gate, crawling through the crowds.
Forward Lukas Podolski posted a selfie with Schweinsteiger and the trophy. He tweeted: "The Cup is in Berlin!!!"
Mario Goetze, who scored the winner in the final, tweeted: "Wow, what's going on here ... AMAZING!"