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   July 2, 2002 | 2010 IST


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Brazil hails return of champs

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Escorted by four air force fighters, Brazil's victorious World Cup team landed in the capital on Tuesday as thousands of fans exploded into shrieks of delight with their returning soccer heroes.

Dressed head-to-toe in the green and yellow of the national flag, fans jostled to get a glimpse of the World Cup champions as the beaming players emerged from a chartered plane after flying half way across the globe from Japan.

Brazil players Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Denilson and Roque Junior sing along as striker Ronaldinho bangs out a samba beat on a drum, during their flight home from Japan.Their plane, with Brazilian soccer players painted on the sides, circled the clear blue sky above the futuristic capital several times before landing.

The teams's captain, Cafu, and coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, leaned out of the cockpit's windows, waving Brazilian flags, as the plane came down the runway to the terminal.

Cafu stepped off the plane, raising the World Cup trophy in the air, as horns and hooters blasted and a brass band played.

After beating Germany 2-0 in Sunday's final, Brazil became the only country in the world to win the World Cup five times.

Fans lined the highways, hoping to catch a glimpse of the players as they prepared to ride a fire truck to the presidential palace, where President Fernando Henrique Cardoso would receive them.

Thousands of fans descended on the huge square in front of the palace, where 4,000 police officers were stationed.

It was a triumphant homecoming for the team and for coach Scolari, or "Big Phil," after being ripped apart by the national media before the championship and virtually written off after struggling to qualify.

Instead, they returned to the jubilant South American nation as World Cup record breakers.

Ronaldo ended the tournament as top striker with eight goals, equaling a Brazilian record of 12 goals at World Cup finals set by soccer legend Pele. He put two goals past German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, who won the Golden Ball award for best World Cup player and also was named the best keeper.

Ronaldo's name was splashed across giant banners lining the sun-blazed streets of Brasilia and bouncing fans clamored for a wave or a wink from the man they call "the phenomenon."

Brazil won the 1958, 1962, 1970 and 1994 cups although they had never met Germany in the final.

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