New European Champions Party Hard Before Flying Home | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 30.06.2008
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New European Champions Party Hard Before Flying Home

It started on the pitch in Vienna's Ernst Happel stadium, continued with high jinks in the dressing rooms and ended at 8.15 am Monday morning in the Austrian town of Neustift, where Spain celebrated their Euro 2008 win.

Spanish fans celebrate after player Fernando Torres scored against Germany during the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships final between Germany and Spain

Spanish fans partied hard -- but their heroes celebrated harder and longer

Alvaro Arbeloa and Ruben de la Red were the last to leave for the hotel, where veteran coach Luis Aragones, 69, had already headed before 6 am (0400 GMT) long after dawn in the quiet Stubai Valley.

The European champions chose a quiet party amongst themselves rather than a glamorous night at one of Vienna's fancy nightclubs after beating Germany 1-0 in the tournament final on Sunday.

Fog at Innsbruck airport delayed the celebrations and the plane carrying Spain players did not land in the Tyrolese capital until about 2.30 am.

By 3.30 am the team had arrived at their hotel, the luxurious Milderer Hof, some 20 kilometers from Innsbruck. They dropped their luggage and some even changed clothes, although most chose to keep their sports attire following the historic final.

At 4.15 am the players arrived at the Anny, a restaurant in central Neustift where pizzas were waiting for them, and half-an-hour later - led by the hero of the night, goalscorer Fernando Torres - they walked a few meters to the DorfPub, to celebrate the well- deserved title with quite a few drinks and music until after 8 am.

The trophy that goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas had lifted to the Viennese sky a few hours later stayed at the hotel lobby.

Spanish choose a private celebration

Spanish fans

Many fans were tucked up in bed while the team drank on

In those early hours Neustift was largely unaware of what was happening. Three police cars and several officers were in charge, and two private security agents took care that no one unrelated to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) made it inside the pub.

There were no fans and just a couple of reporters. The champions had the party they wanted -- private, almost clandestine.

Aragones, wearing trousers and a shirt, was the first to leave, after posing for a couple of pictures with the police officers. For lack of trouble or fans, police cars became "taxi-patrols" to take players some 3 kilometers to their hotel.

The Red Cross showed up to take care of someone who drank too much at the party. "In Austria they take this very seriously, particularly in winter, so that people do not freeze," an Austrian told reporters about the exceptional move, since the person in question - not a player - did not look that bad.

"I am tired," Santi Cazorla told reporters as he left. Cazorla regretted the wait in the Innsbruck sky until the fog was off. "The party is not the same on the plane," he complained. "We will have a good one tomorrow (Monday)," he added, thinking of the team's arrival in Madrid.

Champions emerge from party into morning sun

Spain's national soccer team supporters

Spain will return to Madrid and a heroes' welcome

It was almost 7 am and Cazorla, Carlos Marchena and Raul Albiol were followed by Andres Iniesta. "After the game and everything I am tired," the midfielder told reporters. It showed in his face, but he still had enough energy for one last analysis of the final.

"Germany did not play well, really. They barely got to our goal. We could have scored more goals," said Iniesta, noting that the players would only realize what they have achieved upon arrival in Spain.

Inside the pub, one could hear the usual We Are the Champions and a German version of Que Viva España.

U2's Beautiful Day honored the excellent Sunday, a day that the 23 members of the Spain squad will never forget. And then Nelly Furtado contributed a stroke of early nostalgia as she wondered "why do all good things come to an end."

It was 7.30 am and Neustift was waking up to find the slight buzz. Two blond children, very Austrian-looking, went by the pub with their huge rucksacks on the way to school. It was a Monday morning, and they were miles away from the Euro.

Little by little, teenage girls made their way to the pub, by then aware that the champions -- particularly Fernando Torres -- were celebrating a few meters from them. They were out for a photo, an autograph.

By then, security measures had been relaxed and anyone could enter the pub, and the players would sign anything.

Torres was among the last to leave the pub -- a few photos, and then off to the hotel to get some sleep.

Arbeloa and De la Red tried to stretch the champions' party, but it came to an end almost without them realizing.

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