Madrid - Thousands of jubilant Real Madrid fans swamped the centre of the Spanish capital on Thursday to see their heroes parade in an open-top bus in celebration of their league title success.
“Champions! Ole, ole!” yelled the crowd, as coach Jose Mourinho, top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, captain Iker Casillas and the rest of the team waved from the bus, to the sound of firecrackers and horns.
Fans of all ages crowded the Plaza de Cibeles, a square recently more used to angry protests against the economic crisis than the joyful outpouring of the “Madridistas”, revelling in their first league victory for four years.
“We're so proud. We're going to dance, drink and have a good time,” said Carlos Caleno, a 31-year-old Ecuadorean who came to cheer his adopted team wrapped in Real's white flag.
“Things are hard at the moment. But football makes you forget all your problems.”
“Tonight we can forget the crisis,” said his friend Armando Mena, 39, dressed in a black Madrid strip and cap, as they waited for the team's bus to make its way down the Castellana avenue.
Another friend of theirs, a Barcelona fan, stood nearby in silence.
Real's 3-0 away win over Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday sealed the league title, putting them seven points clear of last year's winners, arch rivals Barcelona, with just two games to go.
It was Real's first league title since 2008 and extended their record number of Spanish league wins to 32.
“It has been hard, so this is satisfying. We're so happy,” said Monica Garcia, 39, who came with her 14-year-old daughter from the suburbs for the celebration, dressed in the team's white strip.
“I have always been a Madridista and will be until I die.” - Sapa-AFP