The private party of the European champions

The private party of the European champions

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Spain football team celebrated the long-awaited world champion title in a small Austrian town – without any fans.

NEUSTIFT - Everything started on the pitch in Vienna's Ernst Happel stadium, continued with a pretend-train by the players for reporters' delight and ended at 8.15 am Monday morning in the small Austrian town of Neustift, where Spain celebrated in private the Euro 2008 title.

Alvaro Arbeloa and Ruben de la Red were the last to leave for the hotel, where veteran coach Luis Aragones, 69, had already headed before 6 am (0400 GMT) long after dawn in the quiet Stubai Valley.

The European champions chose a quiet party amongst themselves rather than a glamorous night at one of Vienna's fancy nightclubs after beating Germany 1-0 in the tournament final on Sunday.

Fog at Inssbruck airport delayed the celebrations and the plane carrying Spain players did not land in the Tyrolese capital until about 2.30 am.

By 3.30 am the team had arrived at their hotel, the luxurious Milderer Hof, some 20 kilometres from Innsbruck. They dropped their luggage and some even changed clothes, although most chose to keep their sports attire following the historic final.

At 4.15 am the players arrived at the Anny, a restaurant in central Neustift where pizzas were waiting for them, and half-an-hour later - led by the hero of the night, goalscorer Fernando Torres - they walked a few metres to the DorfPub, to celebrate the well- deserved title with quite a few drinks and music until after 8 am.
The trophy that goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas had lifted to the Viennese sky a few hours later stayed at the hotel lobby.

In those early hours, Neustift was largely unaware of what was happening. Three police cars and several officers were in charge, and two private security agents took care that no one unrelated to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) made it inside the pub.

There were no fans and just a couple of reporters. The champions had the party they wanted - private, almost clandestine.

Aragones, wearing trousers and a shirt, was the first to leave, after posing for a couple of pictures with the police officers. For lack of trouble or fans, police cars became "taxi-patrols" to take players some three kilometres to their hotel.

The Red Cross showed up to take care of someone who drank too much at the party.

"In Austria they take this very seriously, particularly in winter, so that people do not freeze," an Austrian told Deutsche Presse- Agentur dpa about the exceptional move, since the person in question - not a player - did not look that bad.

"I am tired," Santi Cazorla told dpa as he left.

Cazorla regretted the wait in the Innsbruck sky until the fog was off.

"The party is not the same on the plane," he complained.

"We will have a good one tomorrow (Monday)," he added, thinking of the team's arrival in Madrid.

It was almost 7 am and Cazorla, Carlos Marchena and Raul Albiol were followed by Andres Iniesta.

"After the game and everything I am tired," the midfielder told dpa.

It showed in his face, but he still had enough energy for one last analysis of the final.

"Germany did not play well, really. They barely got to our goal. We could have scored more goals," said Iniesta, noting that the players would only realize what they have achieved upon arrival in Spain.

Inside the pub, one could hear the usual We Are the Champions and a German version of Que Viva España.

U2's Beautiful Day honoured the excellent Sunday, a day that the 23 members of the Spain squad will never forget. And then Nelly Furtado contributed a stroke of early nostalgia as she wondered "why do all good things come to an end."

It was 7.30 am and Neustift was waking up to find the slight buzz. Two blond children, very Austrian-looking, went by the pub with their huge rucksacks on the way to school. It was a Monday morning, and they were miles away from the Euro.

Little by little, teenage girls made their way to the pub, by then aware that the champions - particularly Fernando Torres - were celebrating a few metres from them. They were out for a photo, an autograph.

By then, security measures had been relaxed and anyone could enter the pub, and the players would sign anything.

Torres was among the last to leave the pub - a few photos, and then off to the hotel to get some sleep.

Arbeloa and De la Red tried to stretch the champions' party, but it came to an end almost without them realising.

text by dpa / Expatica
photos by google

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