Night of wild celebrations for Azzurri's 4th World Cup

After a night of wild celebrations, Italy is preparing to welcome home the Azzurri heroes who gave the country its fourth World Cup Sunday.

"It's All True - Champions of the World," read Monday's front-page headline of sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, above a photo of captain Fabio Cannavaro holding high the sport's most sought-after trophy .

"The Italy of Champions," declared Milan-based daily Corriere della Sera.

The Azzurri return from Germany Monday afternoon for a victory party at Rome's Circus Maximus, the site of an ancient chariot-racing arena. AS Roma and Italy star Francesco Totti said he wants at least "two million" fans to come.

With the match tied at 1-1 in full time, Italy beat France 5-3 on penalties in Sunday's final.

Fans sprayed each other with prosecco sparkling wine - French champagne was avoided - and launched the so-called "carousel" of people buzzing around in cars and scooters, waving flags and hooting their horns.

Some even squeezed into the open boots of automobiles, while others cruised around on the roofs to get a better view of the parting and groups of friends piled into the backs of trucks.

"In 25 years time, when today's generation of children are adults, Italy's World Cup celebrations will stay in their memories," wrote Gianni Riotta in Corriere della Sera.

"It is the greatest (feeling of satisfaction) of my life," said Azzurri coach Marcello Lippi .

AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said the match-fixing scandal that threatens to see his club relegated, along with three others - Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina - actually helped the Azzurri at Germany 2006 .

"Without the scandal we would not have won this World Cup," the player said. "It gave us strength and team spirit" .

Italy's three previous World Cup wins came in 1982, 3-1 against West Germany; in 1938, 4-2 against Hungary; and in 1934, 2-1 against Czechoslovakia.

Source: Xinhua



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