Around 1000 fans greeted Inter Milan with deafening chants and a giant cardboard cut-out of coach Jose Mourinho when the side arrived at the city’s airport on Thursday.
Delirious fans, long starved of success on the top European stage, honked car horns and waved giant flags in Milan city centre long into the night after the match on Wednesday.
One banner at the airport read “Welcome Back Heroes” after Mourinho had lauded the rearguard action of his 10-man team and said reaching the final was better than winning the trophy in 2004 with Porto.
Defender Ivan Cordoba described the reaction at the airport as “madness” while teammate Maicon was more cautious given the team, chasing an unprecedented treble of Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League, could still end up losing all three. “We haven’t won anything yet,” the Brazilian said.
However, fans said they could be forgiven for the hysteria after a topsy-turvy season where Inter started slowly in Europe and had looked to have thrown a fifth straight scudetto away before rising back to the top in Serie A with three games left.
“It is an indescribable emotion, Mourinho is the greatest coach. I’ve got tears in my eyes,” Inter fan Marco said.