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Germany's Michael Ballack at the team reception in Berlin
© dpa - International
Euro 2008: Heroes' welcome for Ballack's men in Berlin

July 01, 2008

The German soccer team received a rousing welcome in Berlin by tens of thousands of fans on Monday, June 30 despite losing 1-0 to Spain in the final of Euro 2008.

Coach Joachim Loew and his players were welcomed by Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit before the players walked on stage to wild applause at the vast "fan mile" at the city's Brandenburg Gate to the unofficial Euro fan anthem "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes.

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger appeared to cries of "Schweini Schweini" from many of the young girls among the crowd as Captain Michael Ballack and stars, Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose too were cheered on enthusiastically.

"The atmosphere in Germany was fantastic. We hope to bring home a cup in the future," Schweinsteiger, the popular Bayern Munich midfielder, said.

"You are the best" read one of the countless banners in the crowd of some 300,000 and some fans had even brought a replica of the cup with the writing "thank you" on it.

"We would have not made it without the fans. It is important for our young team," Ballack said.

"It is great for us that we could delight the fans even though we lost. It is an amazing feeling and gives me goose bumps," goalkeeper Jens Lehmann said.

Germany full of praise for Spain

Despite not always shining on the pitch, the German team had created another soccer frenzy in Germany which sometimes came close to that from the 2006 home World Cup in which Germany finished third.

Hundreds of thousands of fans watched the games from Austria and Switzerland in the country's public viewing areas, with more than 500,000 on hand in Berlin alone for the German 3-2 semi-final win over Turkey and the final.

The fans at least partly cheered up the players, but no complaints were heard and read in the country after Germany not simply lost the Euro 2008 final 1-0 to Spain but was comprehensively outplayed on Sunday in Vienna.

Slowly getting there

The German daily Hamburger Abendblatt recalled the soccer frenzy which had gripped the nation like at the 2006 home World Cup and looked ahead, saying "maybe the happy end follows in 2010" at the World Cup in South Africa, as Germany was third at the 2006 World Cup and now second at Euro.

German chancellor Angela Merkel struck a similar note after attending the game in the Vienna stadium.

"Third at the World Cup and now second, that is something. Maybe we will improve again in South Africa," said Merkel. "I told Ballack that we have to wait a little longer until we can celebrate together but that we are slowly getting there."

Large numbers of Germans had celebrated in the fan zones ahead of the match, with the Berlin zone closed some three hours before the kickoff as it was filled to its capacity with more than 600,000 fans.

"The fans left the fan zone very quietly, very peacefully and in very well-behaved way," said a Berlin fan zone official after the match.

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© Deutsche Welle / German Information Centre New Delhi
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