Didier Deschamps and his World Cup-winning France team returned from Russia as heroes as the country turned out in force to welcome them home.
The squad touched down at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport shortly before 1600BST on Monday, less than 24 hours after skipper Hugo Lloris had lifted the trophy at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow following a 4-2 victory over Croatia in the final.
As thousands of supporters gathered along the Champs-Elysees ahead of an open-top bus parade, Lloris and Deschamps, only the third man to win the World Cup as both player and coach, emerged from the plane with the trophy, the keeper holding it aloft in front of a delighted reception committee.
They then boarded a bus to head into the city centre to receive the acclaim of their compatriots, with jets roaring over the Arc de Triomphe leaving behind red, white and blue smoke.
Several players took to social media to post videos and photographs as they made their way to the Elysee Palace for a reception with President Emmanuel Macron, who had been in Moscow to witness the victory
Defender Raphael Varane posted a selfie with the massed crowds in the background accompanied by the message “Merci” – “Thank you” – while a President Macron shared a live video of the the bus passing through the crowds on his official Facebook account.
A photograph of the squad with the president and the trophy inside the palace later appeared on the team’s official Twitter account along with the message “One team, one nation, one dream. Two stars”, the latter a reference to the emblem teams are allowed to wear on their shirts each time they win a World Cup.
Deschamps and the players were greeted by President Macron and his wife Brigitte outside the Elysee Palace, where they sang the national anthem.
They were then taken inside to continue the celebrations away from the cameras.
The mood both in the city and beyond was electric after a first success in the tournament since Deschamps, in his playing days, lifted the trophy on home soil in 1998.
They returned with striker Antoine Griezmann also having won the Silver Boot – as runner-up to England’s Harry Kane in the goalscoring stakes – and the Bronze Ball, behind the tournament’s best player Luka Modric of Croatia and Belgium’s Eden Hazard in second place, while 19-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe claimed the young player award.
Mbappe was the first teenager to score in the final since Brazilian superstar Pele, now 77, who took to Twitter to say: “If Kylian keeps equalling my records like this, I may have to dust my boots off again.”
Mbappe replied: “The king will always remain king.”