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By ESPN Staff

World champions Sao Paolo return to heroes reception

SAO PAULO, Brazil, Dec 20 (Reuters) - World club champions Sao Paulo were welcomed home with a huge victory parade that brought the centre of South America's largest city to a near standstill on Tuesday.

Thousands of jubilant fans lined the route from the airport to the city centre while the team paraded through the streets in a specially converted open-topped truck.

An estimated 5,000 fans gathered at the airport, where goalkeeper and captain Rogerio Ceni waved at fans from the plane's cockpit before the team were whisked away through a back exit.

The truck took about four hours to make the journey to the city centre for a brief meeting with mayor Jose Serra.

Sao Paulo won their third world championship on Sunday when they beat European champions Liverpool 1-0 in the final of the six-team tournament in Japan.

The result was a surprise as South American club sides survive on only a fraction of the budgets of the big European clubs and have to sell their top players to stay afloat.

The Tricolor also won the trophy twice during the 1990s with a memorable team coached by Tele Santana.

'It was an heroic and emblematic victory,' Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said in a television interview.