A king's welcome for European champions Spain
Swathed in the red and yellow colours of Spain, hundreds of thousands packed central Madrid to give a hero's welcome home to the Spanish team that also had a special reception at the Royal Palace.
Swathed in the red and yellow colours of Spain, hundreds of thousands packed central Madrid to give a hero's welcome to the Spanish team that also had a special reception at the Royal Palace. (All AFP and AP Photos)
Blowing horns, the fans put up with a baking evening sun to catch a glimpse of their heroes as they paraded by on the bus, escorted by police on horseback and motorbikes.
The team's elegant performance in the Euro 2012 final raised spirits across a country drowning in financial woes and rampant unemployment.
The Euro 2012 victory made Spain the first team ever to win three successive major tournaments - Euro 2008, 2012 and 2010 World Cup.
Fans went to extreme lengths to catch a glimpse of their heroes and welcome them home.
Adding to Spain's joy, Andres Iniesta (C) won the player of the tournament award.
The public was splashed with water through a hose to keep them cool under the hot sun.
After a two-and-a-half hour open-air bus ride through the fan-packed streets, squad members took to a stage in Cibeles plaza against the backdrop of Madrid's majestic town hall.
Earlier, Team captain and goalie Iker Casillas proudly held the tournament cup as he emerged from the plane in Madrid with coach Vicente del Bosque.
The Iberia plane that brought them to the Spanish capital bore the logo "proud of our national team."
Hours after their return from Kiev, King Juan Carlos and members of the royal family congratulated the players at the Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid.
Coach Del Bosque received a hug from King Carlos for leading the Spanish team to the Euro 2012 title.
Spain's Prince Felipe (Top L), and Princesses Leonor (Bottom L) and Sofia (Bottom R) pose with the EURO 2012 trophy at the Zarzuela palace in Madrid.
King Juan Carlos was presented with a Spain jersey by team captain Iker Casillas.