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Argentina soccer team welcomed home by thousands of fans after World Cup victory

The Argentina men’s soccer team arrived in Ezeiza on Tuesday to thousands of cheering fans as the team prepares for a day of celebration in Buenos Aires coming off their victory in the World Cup.

Captain Lionel Messi, holding the World Cup trophy, and the rest of the team descended from the plane shortly before 3 a.m. Tuesday onto a red carpet.

Messi was the first player off the plane alongside coach Lionel Scaloni as they walked past a sign that read, “Thank you, champions.” Argentina over the weekend won its third World Cup title and its first since 1986.

The new World Cup champions boarded an open-top bus to travel to the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association.

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The bus moved slowly as fans waved Argentine flags and swarmed the bus to try and see the players as police attempted to keep them away.

It took about an hour for the bus to travel around 6.8 miles from the airport to AFA headquarters, where the players were welcomed with fireworks.

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Argentina President Alberto Fernández declared Tuesday a national holiday for a celebration of the team’s victory. There were no official plans as of Tuesday morning for Fernández or other political leaders to participate in the celebrations.

Massive parties have been taking place in the streets of Argentina since Sunday’s victory – with fans particularly looking forward to the players arriving home.

As the players’ plane flew closer to Argentina, nearly 200,000 people tracked its path online and news channels delivered live coverage of its arrival.

People began arriving at the airport and outside the AFA headquarters Monday afternoon hoping to get a glimpse of the team.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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