Lionel Messi and Rodrigo De Paul, the stars of the Argentina national football team, along with coach Lionel Scaloni, were forced to fly in a helicopter over the center of Buenos Aires after their bus got stuck in the massive crowd that had gathered to celebrate the parade in honor of the country’s World Cup victory, Argentina’s federal police said Tuesday.
A bus carrying the entire team departed from the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and was supposed to be headed for the Obelisk, a historic landmark in the capital.
However, the bus could not continue due to the crowds on the street, Claudio “Chiqui” Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association, said on Tuesday.
“They won’t let us go to greet all the people who were at the Obelisk, the same security services that escorted us won’t allow us to go any further,” Tapia said.
“A thousand apologies on behalf of all champion players.”
The players were flown over the Obelisk and other areas and then flown back to the AFA training center in Ezeiza, outside Buenos Aires, police said.
The state news agency Télam reported that four million people came to watch the parade in Buenos Aires, citing the police.
According to Argentine outlet InfoFunes, Messi and Ángel Di María flew by helicopter back to their districts in their hometown of Rosario, in the province of Sante Fe, after arriving by plane at Rosario’s local airport.
Messi finally arrived at his home by car to be greeted by a huge crowd of fans celebrating his triumphant return, chanting “Dale Campeón, Dale Campeón” – “Let’s go champion.”
Fellow Santa Fe residents Scaloni and attacker Ángel Correa also flew back, but InfoFunes reported it was via a late plane flight.
Tuesday was declared a national holiday in Argentina following the team’s thrilling penalty shootout victory over France in Qatar on Sunday.
The team’s long-awaited return continues several days of celebration across the country following Argentina’s World Cup success
Superstars Messi and Kylian Mbappé faced off on the pitch in what has been widely hailed as the greatest World Cup final of all time.
Mbappé defended France’s 2018 victory at the tournament in Russia, while 35-year-old Messi played in what could be his last World Cup match in search of the trophy that had eluded him for so long.
Argentina took an early lead in the first half with a penalty from Messi and a stunning goal against from Di Maria, before France roared in the second half with two goals from Mbappé that forced the match into extra time.
Messi scored his second goal of the game to restore his team’s lead – but Mbappé scored a second penalty to take his hat-trick and take the final to a penalty shootout, which ended with Argentina winning after France lost two of its missed penalty kicks.