Spain erupts in nationwide fiesta as `dream comes true`

A thunderous roar erupted across the Spanish capital and fans danced in the streets.

Madrid: A thunderous roar erupted across the
Spanish capital and fans danced in the streets chanting "Viva
Espana!" as the country`s first ever World Cup triumph sparked
a nationwide fiesta.

The centre of Madrid was a sea of the red and gold
national colours as Spain celebrated its nailbiting 1-0
extra-time win over Holland yesterday.

The deafening sounds of cheering, vuvuzelas, firecrackers
and cars horns rang out as the World Cup`s perennial
underachievers won the trophy in their first appearance in the
final thanks to a late goal from midfielder Andres Iniesta.

"The dream has come true," said Spain`s leading daily.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he was
"happy and emotional" at the victory which help would restore
some "confidence" to the country amid its economic crisis.

"This has been an epic match, I suffered like never
before," he said.

In blistering heat, a crowd estimated by Spanish media at
more than 250,000 watched the match on massive screens in a
giant fan park in a one-kilometre stretch of the city`s main

"We are very proud and very happy, I thought it would go
to penalties, Iniesta saved us," said Raul, 18. "We deserved
it after winning the European championship in 2008."

Said Adolfo, 25, "It`s an extraordinary feeling, of
happiness and nerves."

Others crammed into bars or gathered at home for the
match, which left the country paralysed for two and a half
hours yesterday evening.

Most were either wrapped in the Spanish flag, wore the
red team shirts or red wigs or had their faces painted red and

One young woman was disguised as an octopus, in tribute
to Paul, the now famous clairvoyant cephalopod in Germany who
predicted Spain`s victory.

"Spain, Spain, Spain!" screamed the daily El Mundo in a
headline on its website. "This World Cup has crowned one of
the best teams of all time."

"Iniesta took us up into heaven" after an "agonising"
game, said the sports daily Marca. "We suffered, but it was
worth it."

Thousands of fans had earlier poured into the capital
from other parts of the country to soak up the atmosphere,
many travelling all night and planning to leave the next
morning after a night of revelry.

"We`re going to celebrate like crazy, all night, all
Monday, until Tuesday morning," said Miguel Angel, 41, who had
travelled from the northern city of Bilbao for the match.

More than 2,000 police officers were on duty in the
capital as well as medical teams, who treated dozens of people
who suffered amid the stifling heat and the crush of
supporters in the fan park.

Several hours after the end of the match, tens of
thousands were still celebrating on the streets and in the
bars of Madrid but no major incidents were reported, as
municipal workers began clearing away the garbage left behind.

Almost all towns and cities throughout the country had
installed giant screens for people to watch the match.

There was even excitement in Catalonia, a region with its
own distinct culture and language and which has traditionally
been disdainful of the Spanish national team.

Authorities in the Catalan capital of Barcelona set up a
giant outdoor fan park for the final for the first time during
the tournament, where authorities said around 75,000 people
watched the match.

The crowd erupted with joy and waved Spanish flags, with
many in tears, at the historic victory.

In the northern town of Pamplona, the World Cup final
heightened the fervour and revelry over this week`s annual San
Fermin festival, which includes "running of the bulls".

The players will be feted in a parade in an open-top bus
that will pass through central Madrid today evening, ahead of
a reception by Zapatero.

Bureau Report

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