Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates in front of hundreds of thousands of fans near the Brandenburg Gate on Tuesday. Photograph: Alex Grimm/AP
Hundreds of thousands of fans in black, red and gold flock to Berlin to see victorious team parade with World Cup trophy
Philip Oltermann in Berlin
More than half a million people flocked to the centre of Berlin on Tuesday to greet the World Cup-winning football team, with the most enthusiastic fans starting to gather at the "fan zone" in front of the Brandenburg Gate as early as 4am. But they had to bake in the summer sun for a good eight hours before they could cheer their returning heroes.
The German team's Boeing 747 left Rio de Janeiro with a two-hour delay after a luggage carriage had accidentally scratched the Lufthansa plane's shiny veneer. So it wasn't until shortly before 10am that the plane appeared in the skies over Berlin, dipping its wings as it flew only a few hundred metres above the ground after being granted special permission by the Berlin senate. The crowds responded with a deafening roar.
By then, the 200,000-capacity fan zone had already been closed due to overcrowding. Fans had flocked to the centre of the capital, young and old fans in replica shirts decorated with black-red-and-gold garlands standing shoulder to shoulder, waiting to catch a glimpse of the team as they drove past on an open-top bus.
Builders on top of the Bundestag had downed tools and got out their smartphones. "It's like the fall of the wall all over again", said one gridlocked fan as people climbed over cars and walls to get a better view. As the team bus finally appeared, it was greeted with ecstatic applause and chants of "So sehen Sieger aus" ("That's what winners look like").
Paradoxically, the applause seemed to quieten down as the bus passed the crowds at walking pace: people were too busy taking pictures to clap. The Nationalmannschaft's entrance on to a stage in front of the fan zone, was also befitting of the smartphone era. Rather than walk out as one team, someone had decided that a staggered entrance would be more dramatic, with the squad divided into the groups of six that had shared apartments at the team's training camp in Brazil.
Each entrance came with its own choreography – an element that not only added an artificial element to proceedings but also left a slightly sour note.
Mario Götze, Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos, André Schürrle, Shkodran Mustafi and Roman Weidenfeller enacted an old football chant that had previously only been seen on the terraces, jumping and waving as they sang "That's what the Germans look like," then slouching with hanging heads to the words "That's what the Gauchos (Argentinians) look like".
Another group of players, including midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, walked out with their hands on each other shoulders, seemingly in reference to the pre-match ritual of the Brazilian team they had beaten 7-1 in the semi-final.
Many felt it added an air of triumphalism to the celebration that was not only not in the spirit of the sport, but also uncharacteristic of a team that had previously been commended for its humility and fair play.
Only the last choreography felt like it managed to capture the mood of this team's glorious World Cup campaign. A group of players walked out with their heads sunk bowed, only to then fall to the ground like bowling pins, revealing captain Philipp Lahm in their midst, holding aloft the trophy.
Source: The Guardian