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SPORTS | 22-12-2022 17:14

Argentina's world champions welcomed as heroes in their hometowns

World Cup winners given honours and warm welcomes as they are welcomed back to their hometowns as heroes.

Rosario, Pujato, Calchín, Mar del Plata – the cities and towns of Argentina are celebrating their world champions, who have returned to homes to rest after their historic campaign in Qatar and their chaotic victory parade that brought five million people onto the streets of Buenos Aires. 

After four hours of intense sunshine and difficulty in moving forward, the celebrations came to an end in the air as Lionel Messi, Ángel Di María, Rodrigo De Paul and others flew by helicopter over the Obelisk, Plaza de Mayo and the entire area they had planned to tour before returning to the Argentine Football Association’s (AFA) training ground in Ezeiza.

Soon after, the Albiceleste captain – accompanied by Di María and national team coach Lionel Scaloni – flew by private plane for Rosario, 310 kilometres north of Buenos Aires, before taking a helicopter to a condominium in the town of Funes to spend a few days relaxing with his family.

"We want a photo and then we'll go," cheered rosarinos who waited behind fences erected to protect the neighbourhood on Wednesday, hoping to see their hero.

It is not yet known if there will be a ceremony at the Monumento a la Bandera, the usual hotspot for football celebrations in Rosario, to celebrate the city’s World Cup-winning native sons, Messi, Di María and Ángel Correa.

"If they want to, we will think of something. We are happy that they want to come and spend a few days with the family and the priority is for them to come and enjoy themselves. They are going to spend their holidays here," said Rosario City Mayor Pablo Javkin.

 

Pride

Just 40 km from Rosario is Scaloni’s hometown of Pujato, where just 3,700 inhabitants reside. Celebrations there, however, have been measured because locals are still mourning the death of one of their young villagers in an accident during the World Cup.

But last Sunday, when Argentina won the World Cup, ending a 36-year World Cup title drought, the people of Pujato celebrated in the streets.

"On Sunday it was necessary to celebrate and support Scaloni for everything he had done. We are respectful of his time. He has a low profile," said local Daniel Quacquarini.

"The dream of all Argentines came true, eternally grateful, excited to see them happy," Scaloni wrote on Instagram.

In Calchín, another small town of 3,000 inhabitants in Córdoba Province, 650km north of Buenos Aires, the party has been raging for days.

On Wednesday they declared their native son, Julián 'La Araña' Álvarez – who was born there 22 years ago – to be an “illustrious citizen,” handing over the town keys to the World Champion.

The Manchester City striker, one of the revelations of the World Cup, at which he scored four goals for the champion team, thanked locals for their support in a speech before leading them in a hearty rendition of ‘Muchachos’ – the hit of the summer.

On Thursday, it was the turn of goalkeeper Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martínez, who was hailed at a ceremony at his birthplace of Mar del Plata, where a huge piece of art reconstructing one of his epic penalty shoot-out saves has been erected.

 

– TIMES/AFP

 

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