Spain return home to join the celebrations

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The Independent Football

Spain captain Iker Casillas was first out of the aeroplane and held the World Cup aloft at the top of the steps as the team arrived back in Madrid for the start of the official celebrations this afternoon.

Spain won the World Cup for the first time, beating Netherlands 1-0 after extra time in South Africa on Sunday, and soon after were winging their way back home.

The plane landed at Madrid's Barajas airport where they were greeted by hundreds of airport workers who were waving flags and chanting "Champions" in temperatures that were touching 40 degrees Celsuis (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

The squad quickly boarded a bus on the apron and were taken to a hotel in the city centre to change in preparation for an audience with King Juan Carlos, who had been unable to attend the final in Johannesburg on doctors' orders after an illness.

After that, the team will meet Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who was also unable to make it to Soccer City stadium, before setting off round the streets of the capital in an open-topped bus.

The bus tour finishes at a specially erected stage on the banks of the river Manzanares where the party will get underway later this evening in front of thousands of fans, many of whom are already taking up their places.