Thousands of fans have lined up in the middle of the night to try to get a glimpse of the Argentina football team that won one of the greatest World Cup finals of all time.
The plane transporting the World Cup winners and their captain Lionel Messi back from Qatar arrived at the Ezeiza international airport in Buenos Aires at 2:40am local time (05:40 GMT) on Tuesday.
Having beaten France in Sunday’s thrilling final, the players will now spend the night at the Argentine Football Association (AFA) training complex near the airport.
They will then begin a tour of the Buenos Aires city centre from midday on Tuesday with millions expected out in the streets on what President Alberto Fernández declared a national holiday.
Messi, who scored twice in the final, was the first player to emerge from the plane, holding the World Cup aloft, with coach Lionel Scaloni right behind him as they walked past a sign that read, “Thank you, champions.”
Forward Julian Alvarez, a revelation in Qatar with his four goals, was one of the next players to emerge, alongside the man whose place he took in the team, Lautaro Martinez, who was carrying a drum.
A picture of Messi was emblazoned on the plane’s tail with the words: “One team, One Country, One dream” on its side.
The players were welcomed by rock band La Mosca singing Muchachos, a song that was written by a fan to the tune of an old song by the band and became a popular unofficial anthem for Argentina fans at the World Cup in Qatar.
The newly crowned champions of the world boarded an open-top bus and sang along while they waited for everyone to get on, before heading to the AFA headquarters.
The bus moved at a snail’s pace as fans, many of whom were waving Argentina flags, swarmed the bus on a highway, eager for a glimpse of the players as law enforcement officers tried to keep them at bay.