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Fans enjoy the atmosphere as they wait for the German national soccer squad during the German team victory ceremony, near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, July 15. (AP)
Championship bolsters already upbeat national mood Germany welcomes home heroes

BERLIN, July 15, (Agencies): Hundreds of thousands of jubilant fans massed at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate Tuesday to cheer the World Cup winners and new national heroes bringing home football’s top prize for the first time to a reunified Germany. The flag-waving crowd, which began gathering before dawn, erupted in applause under warm summer sunshine when the triumphant players arrived from Rio de Janeiro. Germany coach Joachim Loew told more than 250,000 supporters at the so-called Fan Mile stretching behind the Gate, the symbol of national unity, that they shared the title with his players. “We are all world champions,” he said. “Of course we are all overjoyed now to be with the fans.”

Captain Philipp Lahm hoisted the World Cup trophy to a giant roar from the crowd. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a child,” Lahm said as he passed the golden statuette to his fellow players. Team members wearing black shirts emblazoned with the number one took the stage in groups to greet ecstatic supporters, many of whom travelled from across the country and skipped work to join the party. They carried a long banner reading “Obrigado Fans”, “thank you” in Portuguese in a nod to tournament hosts Brazil, and “the fourth title is ours”.
 
Mario Goetze, who scored the only goal in Sunday’s nail-biter final against Argentina, called the Mannschaft’s win “a dream”. “We played an amazing tournament,” he said to chants of “Super Mario”. “It’s an incredible feeling.” Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger appeared with the black, red and gold German flag draped from his shoulders, with a bandage still affixed below his eye from a cut he suffered in a clash during the final. “Now we finally have the damn thing,” he said, clutching the trophy. The players jumped and danced together in a raucous circle on stage, singing “this is how the Germans win, this is how the Germans win”.
 
The team touched down in the late morning at Berlin’s Tegel airport on a Lufthansa jet re-branded “Fanhansa” and “Victors’ Plane”, as thousands of supporters waited on a viewing platform. “This is a historic event,” said 34-year-old bus driver Bernd Hesse, who followed all the matches in Brazil on the radio when he was behind the wheel.
He noted that Germans had waited 24 years to bask in the glory of a World Cup victory, the first since the reunification of the country in 1990 following three wins by the former West Germany.
“It’s not every day that you get to see something like this,” he said.
Lydia Lampa, a 28-year-old advertising executive, stopped by the airport with a friend on her way to work.
Wearing a Germany jersey adorned with the coveted fourth star for the latest World Cup win and a Hawaiian-style garland of plastic flowers in the national colours, she said she had watched every World Cup match featuring the Mannschaft.
“This is my way of saying thank you,” she said.
“All the games were exciting and I wanted to see the players at least once live.”
Fans had lined the team’s route as black buses ferried the players to central Berlin from the airport, while construction workers waved from scaffoldings and dozens of cyclists followed the motorcade, their bicycles draped with Germany banners.
Players tweeted photos of the fans, with Mesut Oezil writing “What a crowd! Unbelievable!”
Supporters on the Fan Mile sang “this is what victors look like” under a sea of German flags, which rarely make an appearance outside major sporting events in the country in deference to its militaristic past.
Ulrich Felgentreff said he was born in 1954, the first year West Germany won the World Cup — just nine years after the horrors of World War II, as the country was gradually rejoining the community of nations.
“Everyone has an immense feeling of pride,” he said, decked out with his family in black, red and gold. “And that pride grows title by title.”
By contrast, 18-year-old fan Sven Engel was not even born the last time West Germany won.
“Germany deserves this title, they were much stronger than the other teams,” Engel said.
“But the Brazil match was still the best,” he said, referring to the jaw-dropping 7-1 thrashing of the hosts during the semifinal.
The championship has bolstered an already upbeat national mood, with the German economy humming and popular Chancellor Angela Merkel at the helm of a stable government.
The German media ran banner headlines celebrating the young, talented and multicultural champions.
Even normally staid business daily Handelsblatt joined in the celebration.
“The German team embodies many of the qualities that typify Germany today: commitment, discipline, technical skill and tactical know-how,” it quoted the head of Germany’s top bank Deutsche Bank Juergen Fitschen as saying.
 
Meanwhile, a new German football shirt bearing four stars for Germany’s four World Cup wins had sold out on Monday within hours of the team’s triumph in Brazil — showing the kind of boost retailers can expect from the feel-good factor among fans in coming days. German sportswear maker Adidas is already seeing the benefits, with customers flocking to its Frankfurt store on Monday in a bid to get one of the new white shirts, which cost 84.95 euros. Adidas had made a small batch ahead of the final in case Germany won. Andre Langer was one of the customers lucky enough to get his hands on a replica of the number ‘19’ shirt worn by Mario Goetze, who scored the winning goal. “My son will get this shirt — which of course has four stars on it — for his 18th birthday. He’s one-year-old now,” he said.
 
On Monday morning Adidas’ website was already displaying a “sold out” sign next to the new shirts. The company said it would fly in new ones from China to meet the urgent demand. Adidas shares ended the day up 2.85 percent and a spokeswoman said Germany’s win would give the company “a small extra boost”. Werner Haizmann, head of Germany’s VDS sports retailers’ association, said the old shirts almost completely sold out in the last days before the final and sports retailers could expect good business after the summer holidays due to World Cup fever. Retail associations and economists say jubilation at the win could help boost consumer morale in Germany, which is already at its highest level in more than 7-1/2 years, even if only in the short-term.
 
“It’s the icing on the cake for what’s already a good consumer mood,” said Kai Falk, spokesman for Germany’s HDE retail association. Rolf Buerkl, an analyst at GfK market research institute, said the general mood in Germany would likely improve but added that he did not expect the consumer climate index for August to rise significantly, given that it is already at a high level. Volker Treier, deputy head of the DIHK chamber of industry and commerce, said the World Cup was “a great success for the German economy” and had already brought in orders worth more than 2 billion euros — mostly in infrastructure.

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