World Cup runners-up welcomed as heroes in Croatia

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Zagreb (Croatia), July 17 (IANS) Croatia’s national football team rode through this capital in triumph aboard an open-top bus for more than five hours on their return from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where they reached the final before succumbing 2-4 to France.

More than 500,000 people, according to police, filled the streets of Zagreb – population 800,000 – to welcome the squad home on Monday.

“We have realized our dream,” team captain and Real Madrid standout Luka Modric said, reports Efe.

Modric, who was voted best player of the 2018 World Cup for his part in leading dark horse Croatia to the final, then led the multitude in singing a traditional patriotic song.

Another star, Ivan Rakitic, was greeted with chants of “Ivan, Ivan, Ivan.”

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“It’s impossible to describe these feelings,” the FC Barcelona midfielder said adding: “We are truly proud of having defended our colors.”

Croatia, a nation of roughly 4.5 million people, became the second-smallest country to reach a World Cup final behind two-time winners Uruguay.

–IANS

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