Victorious Spain football team welcomed by thousands

The Spanish national football team celebrated their Euro 2012 win by touring Madrid in an open-top bus

Tens of thousands have turned out in the streets of the Spanish capital Madrid to welcome the national football team after their victory at Euro 2012.

King Juan Carlos received the team at Madrid's Zarzuela Palace before they began a parade in an open-top bus.

The parade ended in a victory rally in the central Plaza de Cibeles.

The squad's 4-0 victory over Italy in Kiev on Sunday made them the first-ever team to win three successive major international tournaments.

The crowd at the rally, most of them wearing the team's red and yellow kit, were entertained by musicians who joined the players on a stage.

"Each of you is a good player, but as a team you are formidable," King Juan Carlos told them.

"You know how to play together, how to combine your own skills with those of your teammates," he added.

Coach Vicente del Bosque hailed Spain's "great generation of footballers".

Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas told the BBC: "It's one of the best days of my life."

'Indirect relief'

The Spanish team - nicknamed La Roja - retained the title they first won in Vienna four years ago by the biggest margin ever in a Euro tournament final.

Between these two, the team also claimed their first World Cup title in South Africa in 2010, making them one of them most successful international sides in history.

For many in Spain, the victory has provided welcome relief from the country's financial crisis.

"The country is more united and people can forget their problems for a while," 27-year-old supporter Jessica Pino told the AFP news agency.

Spain's El Pais newspaper said: "The success of Spanish football are an indirect relief, albeit ephemeral, from the destructive consequences of recession and unemployment that Spanish society is suffering from."

"It will be a sort of flower that blooms for just one day, because economic problems do not go away just because Spain wins," Maria Jose Herraiz, a 54-year-old housewife, told the Associated Press.

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