AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Wednesday 19 December 2012
Last update 19 December 2012 1:24 am
SAO PAOLO: Sao Paulo yesterday gave a heroes’ welcome to its beloved Corinthians on their return home from their 1-0 weekend victory over European Champions Chelsea in the Club World Cup in Japan.
The players flew in early yesterday after a 20-hour flight from Japan with a stopover in Germany.
Thousands of elated fans, many donning the Corinthians’ black and white jerseys, lined the route as the open-air bus carrying the local heroes slowly made its way through the streets of this huge metropolis of 11 million people, South America’s largest.
Joined by popular Brazilian singer Thiaguinho, the players basked in their glory, taking turns to hoist and kiss the coveted FIFA Club World Cup.
The players were welcomed on arrival by Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin and later received a special commemorative plaque from outgoing Mayor Gilberto Kassab.
There were special cheers for striker Paolo Guerrero, who scored the only goal in Sunday’s final in the Japanese city of Yokohama.
“Two-time champions,” “Ole Ole Ole,” the crowd chanted.
The Sao Paulo club secured their second intercontinental title — they won the 2000 FIFA Club World Championship — and became the first side from outside Europe to win the title since 2006.
More than 20,000 Corinthians fans had traveled to Japan to cheer their side and there were wild scenes of jubilation across Sao Paulo on Sunday when the final ended.
The title is a big boost to Brazilian football 18 months before the country is to host its first World Cup since 1950.
The opening game of the premier sporting event will be held in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014.