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27 Jun, 2008 21:15

Heroes' welcome for Russia’s footballers

They may be out of Euro-2008, but Russia’s footballers remain in the hearts of their fans. Thousands turned up at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium to welcome back Guus Hiddink and his men. The team started out as tournament und

Euro 2008 turned out to be Russia’s best football tournament in twenty years. The team's successes, match after match, brought thousands of supporters onto the streets. The games united the country in a mood of hope and excitement.

Even the 3-0 defeat to Spain in the semis failed to dampen spirits. The fans remain happy. They are proud the world now knows how good their team is, and how much the world’s top club’s want their players.

“Before Euro 2008 nobody knew our players. But since the game against the Netherlands – look at Arshavin, Pavlyuchenko, Zyryanov – everybody wants to buy our boys!” one fan said.

Sad, yet victorious, team Russia are back home, and when they arrived in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, thousands turned up to thank them.

“We've learned to believe in our boys. Before we only hoped, but now we can believe,” another supporter said.

The footballers did not expect such a warm welcome. And their coach Guus Hiddink was delighted with the reception.

“We are very amazed that you have come all here to the Luzhniki Stadium to honor our boys. And I'm very proud to be working with these guys. Give them a big hand because they deserve it!”

The supporters believe Russia's back on the map of Europe’s major football nations – and from the reception they received at their homecoming, you might have thought they’d actually won the cup!