Buenos Aires – The airplane transporting World Cup winners Argentina and their captain Lionel Messi back from Qatar arrived at the Ezeiza international airport in Buenos Aires at 2:40 am (0540 GMT) on Tuesday.
Having beaten France in Sunday’s thrilling final, the players will now spend the night at the Argentine Football Association (AFA) training complex near the airport, where thousands of supporters are waiting to greet them.
They will then begin a tour of the Buenos Aires city center from midday on Tuesday with millions expected out in the streets on what is a public holiday.
Messi, who scored twice in the final, was the first player to emerge from the plane, holding the World Cup aloft, with coach Lionel Scaloni right behind him.
Forward Julian Alvarez, a revelation in Qatar with his four goals, was one of the next players to emerge, alongside the man whose place he took in the team, Lautaro Martinez, who was carrying a drum.
A picture of Messi was emblazoned on the plane’s tail with the words: “one team, one country, one dream” on its side.
The players made their way from the plane along a red carpet straight to an open top bus as their World Cup theme song “Muchachos” by ska band La Mosca blared out.
Shortly afterwards the bus left for the AFA complex.