FIFA World Cup: Argentina Return to a Heroes' Welcome
They may have been defeated in the final but Argentina could still hold their heads high as the fans welcomed them like heroes.
They may have been defeated in the final but Argentina could still hold their heads high as the fans welcomed them like heroes. (AFP Images)
To their adoring fans, the team were heroes for battling Germany to the bitter end of a nail-biting 1-0 defeat in extra time.
Thousands more fans lined the team's route from the airport, waving sky blue and white flags and swarming the convoy, which moved forward at a snail's pace.
Nationwide the atmosphere was one of pride as much as disappointment after the team played its first World Cup final since 1990 and Messi claimed the Golden Ball award for best player of the tournament.
The fans waved the flags with pride as their heroes descended from the plane.
They may be children, but this is one moment they will never forget in their lives.
Messi, who had his head down and a pained look on his face, did not speak to the media.
Tree buses that took them to be welcomed by President Cristina Kirchner at the nearby offices of the Argentine Football Association, an event that was closed to the media.
Argentines found consolation in knowing they had at least done better than arch rivals and hosts Brazil, who finished in fourth place.
The Argentine president congratulated the team for their success at the FIFA World Cup.
Mascherano took a pose with the president and also admitted he wished the outcome of the final could have been different.