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Argentina Exults in World Cup Victory

People flock to the Obelisco ahead of the victory parade for the players of the Argentine soccer team, in Buenos Aires, Dec. 20, 2022.

Millions of ecstatic Argentine football fans are cheering their heroes as the World Cup winners, led by captain Lionel Messi, began their open-top bus parade of the capital Buenos Aires on Tuesday following their sensational victory over France.

Throngs of revelers wearing the national team's blue and white replica shirts and draped in flags sang, danced and set off fireworks, with many camped out all night to secure spots along the victory parade route.

After arriving home from Qatar in the early hours of the morning, the players set out at 11:45 am (1445 GMT) from the Argentine Football Association (AFA) training complex on a 30-kilometer (20-mile) journey to the Obelsik monument in the center of city.

Sea of Argentines Gather for World Cup Trophy Parade
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They were given a taste of what was to come on when tens of thousands of people lined the route from the international airport, where they landed at 2:40 am, to their brief overnight stop.

Argentina won the World Cup 2022 final in Qatar 4-2 on penalties after a rollercoaster 3-3 draw for their first world title in 36 years.

"Good morning," wrote Captain Lionel Messi on his social media accounts, alongside a picture of him lying in bed hugging the World Cup trophy at the AFA complex, where the team spent the night.

Tuesday has been declared a public holiday for the celebrations.

"It's wonderful to experience this moment as an Argentine, sharing it with other Argentines," said student Fiorella Lavia, 18.

"I came because of my passion for Argentina. I love Messi, I love the entire team," Alejandra Diaz, 55, a kindergarten teacher told AFP outside the airport.

Welder Javier Merina, 41, said he was "a Messi fanatic" and went to the airport to try to get the star to sign a picture.

Messi, 35, crowned his record-breaking career with football's biggest prize as he produced one of the greatest World Cup final performances, scoring a first-half penalty and netting again in extra time.

In doing so he emulated his predecessor as Argentina's idol, Diego Maradona who inspired the country to their second world title with a series of match-winning displays at Mexico 1986.

"I remember '86 but this victory yesterday was much more emotional and much more stressful," architect Ricardo Grunfeld, 65, told AFP.