Iceland's footballers were celebrated as heroes on their return home on Monday, after a surprisingly successful Euro 2016 campaign that saw the team advance as far as the quarter-finals of the tournament.
The players were paraded through the streets of the capital on a double-decker bus after their airplane landed in Reykjavik’s Keflavik international airport. They then gathered with tens of thousands of fans at Arnarholl Park for a massive rendition of their famous "Huh" Viking war chant.
Iceland drew with Hungary and Portugal, then beat Austria to advance to the last 16 and shocked England with a 2-1 upset on June 27 to reach the quarter-finals. But their Cinderella story nevertheless came to an end when France pummeled Iceland 5-2 at the Stade de France near Paris on July 3.
"Fairy tales still exist! It's rare - if indeed this has ever happened - to unite us Icelanders as you did on the football pitch," Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson told the team in front of jubilant supporters. "You are a national treasure!"
It was the kind of praise Iceland's footballers have become used to. An estimated 30,000 fans, some ten percent of the population, had flown to France to follow their team during the competition.
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Date created : 2016-07-05