The sun set on Germany’s summer fairytale yesterday when half a million people cheered the coronation of Kaiser Jogi Löw and his princes in Berlin.
After a 24-year wait, as the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army thumped over loudspeakers as the boys from Brazil stalked onstage. Then they fell away, revealing a beaming Philipp Lahm holding the long-lost golden calf – the World Cup. He put down the trophy – known here lovingly as "Das Ding", the yoke – and, with the others, bounced around stage. As they strummed their air guitars, the weeping, leaping crowd paid homage.
"Without you all, we wouldn't be here, we're all world champions," said a low-key Joachim Löw, wearing Top Gun-style shades and a crooked, delighted smile.
After the month-long pilgrimage to Brazil, this was the final high mass at Germany’s outdoor cathedral to sport: the “fan mile” before the Brandenburg Gate. Once this was a no man’s land between East and West Berlin, where
wept at the terrible sight, but now it is a place of joy. For the last eight years, fans have come here to watch their national side retool their game and twice came close, but no World Cup cigar. On Sunday, they finally took home gold.
Smoking a cigar on a fan poster, the A-Team’s Hannibal remarked: “I love it when a plan comes together.”
Near the stage, a group from Darmstadt said they drove through the night to secure the best spots.
"If they're not going to come to us, we have to come to then," cheered Mathias Fischer.
Amidst the beer and sausage stands, supporters passed the morning with the “fan wash”, spraying everyone who passed through it in black-red-gold ink.
The first cheer went up shortly before 9am when the “Fanhansa” plane swooped low over the fans before landing at nearby Tegel Airport. The team then boarded an open-topped truck with their World Cup victories painted on the side: “1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014”.
Fans lined the route to cheer the returning heroes. As the truck passed the city prison in Moabit, inmates waved madly through the barred windows. Inching forward to the Brandenburg Gate, three kilometres in two hours, the team finally arrived. They inhaled a waiting buffet and gave a few autographs, before bursting onstage to deafening cheers. Tens of thousands of smartphones were held aloft, the mobile phone network collapsed.
“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a child,” said Philipp Lahm, holding the trophy. “It’s great to be back with this thing.”
Setting the tone of humility, the tournament's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said: "The boys stood in front of me and made it easy for me."
"Super" Mario Götze, whose last-minute goal against Argentina that will be replayed in 40 years, was equally modest.
“It’s a dream but we are world champions and the whole team has earned that,” he said.
It was a party of blood, sweat and tears: Müller and Schweinsteiger’s healing face cuts, an ocean of perspiration under the sea of white polyester and, everywhere you looked, men weeping into their beer.
“The mood is incredible,” said Jan, 35, from Hanover. “Whoever hasn’t experienced this has really missed a lot.”
Nearby, 22-year-old Ben from Hanover kept himself awake with a cool beer. “I feel bad for the people near me as I’ve not showered in three days, so I’m not the freshest. ”
Onstage, the footballers' modest tone was marred somewhat when Miroslav Klose, Mario Götze and five others danced onstage, mocking the Argentinians as "gauchos" bent over in defeat, and the Germans as heroes, walking tall. While many in the crowd cheered, the Twitter crowd gave it a firm thumbs down.
“Extremely embarrassing,” groaned one user, Tobias Dörfer.
The hour-long party reached its crescendo when Germany's biggest singing star, Helena Fischer, danced onto the stage in a four-star national jersey. Leading the national side in a conga around the stage, the diminutive blonde singer sang: "Out of breath, through the night, see what football does to us . . ."
With a final cheer, the party ended when the entire German national side – players, coaches, managers and physios – held up a giant banner: “Obrigado Fans! The fourth star is ours!”