MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid fans celebrated a Champions League title yet again, packing the streets of the Spanish capital and the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium to welcome back their players and watch them lift the European trophy at home.
It was also an emotional farewell to defender Marcelo, who is leaving as the club's player with the most titles ever, with 25. There were huge cheers for the veteran Brazilian throughout the day of celebrations after Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 in Saturday's final in suburban Paris.
Several thousand fans had already spent the early hours of Sunday at the club’s traditional celebration spot, the Cibeles square, after Madrid clinched a record-extending 14th European title. The fans lit flares and chanted the club’s songs and anthem throughout the night.
The festivities on Sunday began in a ceremony at a cathedral, then the squad met with local authorities before parading through the city's streets with the Champions League trophy on an open bus. They headed to the Cibeles square, where tens of thousands of fans were waiting to salute the team.
Team captain Marcelo draped the statue of the goddess Cybele with a Madrid flag and scarf, then lifted the trophy again as fans cheered.
Less than a month ago, Madrid supporters had already packed the same square when the team won its 35th league title.
“We’ve made history again,” club president Florentino Pérez said.
At the Bernabéu, players addressed the crowd and once again lifted the trophy as confetti and fireworks were set off. Coach Carlo Ancelotti sang some of the team’s songs along with the players and the crowd.
“What a season, what a season," said Ancelotti, who won a record fourth Champions League title as a coach. “We had a good time at this stadium this season."
Nearly 55,000 fans had packed the Bernabéu to watch the final on Saturday. A big screen was set up on the halfway line so fans could watch the match, and the crowd erupted when Vinícius Júnior scored the winner and then cheered loudly as Marcelo lifted the trophy in France.
“I haven’t slept much, there was too much adrenaline,” said Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was man of the match on Saturday. “I still can’t believe it. This is incredible.”
Both at the Bernabéu and at Cibeles, Madrid fans often directed derogatory chants at Kylian Mbappé, the Paris Saint-Germain star who last week announced he would not be joining the Spanish club.
Marcelo, who announced he was leaving Madrid after the match against Liverpool, received a huge ovation from the fans at the Bernabéu on Sunday. His teammates threw him into the air a few times.
The 34-year-old left back is leaving 16 years after he joined Madrid from Brazilian club Fluminense in 2006. He cried as he addressed the crowd but said there was no reason to be sad.
“I am very happy,” he said. “I'm saying goodbye after winning another Champions League title.”
Marcelo is one of the many Madrid players who won their fifth Champions League trophy on Saturday, along with Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Dani Carvajal, Francisco Isco, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Nacho Fernández. They were all in the squad that won the European title in 2014 and from 2016-18.
Others likely leaving the club include Bale, Marco Asensio and Francisco Isco.
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Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press