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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 19, 2006

Tens of thousands welcome home Internacional

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Porto Alegre to welcome home club world champions Internacional on Tuesday.

Internacional, who stunned Barcelona 1-0 in Japan on Sunday to win the trophy, arrived in Sao Paulo early on Tuesday morning after flying via Paris.

As the team's plane pulled up to the terminal, team captain Fernandao leaned out of the cockpit window holding the trophy and a huge Internacional flag.

The team then boarded a charter flight to Porto Alegre, which landed at a nearby military base.

After being met by local politicians, the players climbed on to two fire engines and began the journey of around 15 kilometres to the club's Beira-Rio (Riverside) stadium.

Despite the summer heat, delirious Inter fans lined the streets of the city - capital of the Brazil's southern most state of Rio Grande do Sul - and a 50,000 crowd filled the stadium two hours before the team's arrival.

The three-hour procession to the stadium caused a huge traffic jam, virtually bringing the city to a standstill.

'I can't describe how I'm feeling, I've never seen a party like this,' said goalkeeper Clemer.

Some fans wore duck masks - a tribute to 17-year-old striker Alexandre, who is nicknamed 'Alex the Duck' - and others carried banners apologising to substitute Adriano, the scorer of the winning goal against Barcelona.

Adriano had been jeered by the crowd during home matches before the team left for Japan.

'This is a year which will never be forgotten, we managed to overcome all our problems with modesty and efficiency,' said coach Abel Braga.

On arriving at the stadium, the team were greeted by a fireworks display and a shower of ticker tape. They then lifted the trophy for the fans and completed a lap of honour.

By winning the trophy, Internacional were able to emerge from the shadows of their local rivals Gremio, winners in 1983.