Portugal welcomes home its conquering heroes
The day after winning UEFA EURO 2016, Portugal received a rapturous reception in Lisbon, with the nation’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa leading the tributes to Fernando Santos’s side.
Escorted by two F-16 jets from the national air force, Portugal’s plane touched down at Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport at 12:40, and was immediately bombarded by two water cannons, pumping out jets of spray in the national-team colours, red and green. Captain Cristiano Ronaldo and coach Fernando Santos were first off the flight, the rest of the team following them on to the tarmac with A Minha Casinha (my modest little house – the song that has been this team’s anthem in France) blaring out from the airport speakers.
Two open-topped buses then took the team on to meet the president the Palácio de Belém, with Ronaldo wearing a flag from his native Madeira round his neck and a Portuguese flag round his waist. With thousands of cheering fans watching on, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said of the team: “You are an example. You won with courage, determination, fighting spirit and humility. Thanks to you, we all have one more reason to believe in Portugal.”
Fernando Gomes, president of the Portuguese Football Association (FPF) added: “We always believed it was possible to achieve something special and become the first Portugal team to win this European title. It is a moment of huge happiness and we all want to thank the Portuguese people for all the support we got, and the Portuguese emigrants who backed us while we were in France.”
Fans lined the streets as the team moved on to the Football Park, at Alameda Dom Afonso Henriques, stopping to pay their tributes to the late Eusébio at the FPF’s old headquarters, the players chanting: “Eusébio, you are our king.” Fernando Santos then addressed the huge crowd of supprters, saying: “This is, without a shadow of a doubt, a victory for the Portuguese people. Hail Portugal; hail all the heroes of Portugal that are standing here by my side.”
History ❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/7FAK9kbWUC
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) July 11, 2016
Ronaldo added: “These players, this coach, this staff – we all deserve this. We are now part of the history of this country. We are the first to win a major tournament for Portugal, but everyone in this country deserves this.”
The hero of Saint-Denis, goalscorer Éder, added: “Thank you all for this moment. We gave everything on the field for you and we know you were always with us. Now it is time the savour this moment and party.”