In pics | Iceland’s Euro 2016 heroes come back home to a guard of honour

  • Reykjavik,Iceland
  • Updated: Jul 05, 2016 15:09 IST
Iceland fans celebrate their team returning home after Euro 2016. (REUTERS)

Iceland’s footballers received a heroes welcome on returning home following their astonishing run to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals in France.

Their plane flew low over the capital Reykjavik before landing at Keflavik airport where the local fire services gave them a fire hose guard of honour with shooting water creating a rainbow.

Striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, who scored a consolation goal in the crushing 5-2 defeat to the hosts at the Stade de France on Sunday, said he was happy to be home.

Iceland fans celebrate their team returning home after the Euro 2016 in Reykjavik. (Reuters Photo)

“It was a dream come true to get that support,” he said of the estimated 30,000 fans -- some 10 percent of the population -- who followed the nation in France.

“We experienced something simply wonderful, it was a dream come true and we are proud to have brought such cheer to our country,” he said, adding that the friendly behaviour of the fans had done the country proud.

(Reuters Photo)

The players were then paraded through the streets of the capital on a double decker bus in the direction of Arnarholl Park, to celebrate with their fans and sing the famous “huh” - the Viking war chant - which is actually Scottish, punctuated by hand clapping.

(Reuters Photo)

“Fairy tales still exist! It’s rare - if indeed this has ever happened - to unite us Icelanders as you did on the football pitch,” Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson told the team in downtown Reykjavik, to the resounding cheers of tens of thousands of supporters.

Hannes Halldorsson greets the crowd as Icelandic football fans welcome their national football team home to a hero's welcome from the Euro 2016. (AP Photo)

“You are a national treasure!” he added as fans waved flags and team jerseys, and children held aloft cards with their favourite players.

To the delight of the crowd, the heroes of the day sang the “huh” watched emotionally by Swedish coach Lars Lagerback who hailed a “team performance” and confided he felt “at home” whenever he was in Iceland.

Iceland fans celebrate as their national team comes home to a hero's welcome from the Euro 2016, in Reykjavik. (AP Photo)

Many present had also followed the team to France. “They react with pride even after defeat. They did not give up, they did not stop, they return as heroes,” said August Ingi Kristjansson, a 23-year-old who was present in Stade de France on Sunday.

“I’m just so proud!” added Sverrir Gardarsson. “What will happen next? We will rule the world!”

Iceland fans react as they celebrate their team returning home after the Euro 2016 in Reykjavik. (Reuters Photo)

Iceland drew with Hungary and Portugal, then beat Austria to book a last-16 place, where they then defeated England 2-1 to set up a quarterfinal with France.

The captain of the Iceland team, Aron Einar Gunnarsson, walks on stage in Reykjavik. (AP Photo)

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