Arsenal fans hail Cup-winning heroes

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iol spt may18 Arsenal-bus parade Reuters Arsenal fans filled the streets of Islington in north London to hail their team's comeback victory in Saturday's FA Cup final. Photo by: Andrew Winning/Reuters

Tens of thousands of raucous Arsenal fans filled the streets of Islington in north London to hail their team's comeback victory in Saturday's FA Cup final.

In warm sunshine under blue skies, on the capital's hottest day of the year, manager Arsene Wenger and his squad laughed, danced and waved during a celebratory open-top bus tour.

Arsenal recovered from two goals down in the opening eight minutes to defeat Hull City 3-2 after extra time at Wembley and lift their first trophy in nine years.

Their previous success came after beating Manchester United 5-4 on penalties in the 2005 final.

'After 8 years, 11 months, 26 days, 38 minutes and 20 seconds... Arsenal win a trophy' declared The Sunday Times, with a Jose Mourinho-esque sense of irony.

Wenger, who said it was the most important win of his career, had signalled that he was also set to stay at the club following the imminent expiry of his contract, but there was no official statement to confirm he will extend his 18 years' in charge.

“This trophy is for him,” match-winning goalscorer Aaron Ramsey told Sky Sports News. “He's backed us and stood by us and he is so instrumental in the way we play.”

Wenger, soaked in champagne and given 'the bumps' by his players on Saturday, was once again dressed in his pristine uniform - of white shirt and black trousers - as he smiled for photographs.

His team's success had not only ended the club's second-longest spell without success since 1930, but also answered their critics, including Chelsea boss Mourinho, who had labelled Wenger as a 'specialist in failure'.

The parade included a pause for the squad to visit Islington Town Hall and pose for photographs with the mayor and staff before continuing to a red and white tickertape reception with thousands of fans at the club's Emirates Stadium.

“The happiness is linked sometimes with the suffering, and the time you have to wait, and that's why it's such a great moment,” said Wenger, who has won the FA Cup five times with Arsenal.

In less sober style, his players shared a microphone to perform an impromptu karaoke of football anthems. Lanky German defender Per Mertesacker's rendition of 'Arsenal 'till I die' triggered an impassioned chorus as past impatience was set aside and a new era of hope ushered in.– Reuters

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