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Ñito Salas / Migue Fernández
Football

In photos and videos: Malaga CF's heroes given an epic welcome home

Thousands of fans waited to greet the players at the airport in the early hours of this Sunday morning to celebrate the side's promotion while thousands more lined the streets for an open-top bus parade this evening

Daryl Finch

Malaga

Sunday, 23 June 2024

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Malaga CF celebrated promotion to Spain's second tier in style this Sunday, 23 June.

After a last-gasp 2-2 draw away at Gimnàstic de Tarragona sealed a 4-3 aggregate win in the Primera RFEF play-off final on Saturday night, the players received a hero's welcome on their return back to the city.

Promotion back to Segunda at the first time of asking was sealed in the most dramatic fashion, with a goal from teenager Antoñito deep into stoppage time in extra time send the fans into a mix of euphoria and disbelief

A party at the airport

Following the end of the game, thousands of fans, many of whom watched the game on big screens at the nearby municipal auditorium, descended on Malaga Airport in the early hours of Sunday morning in anticipation of the travelling party's arrival.

Fans began arriving before midnight, with the first small groups forming at the airport’s exits while the team was still in Tarragona. As the night progressed, the number of supporters swelled to the thousands. By the time the team's plane landed around 5.30am, the airport was packed, with every available space filled with eager fans.

The atmosphere there was electric with chants echoing through the airport, including the now-famous '¿Dónde está la pelota?' (Where's the ball?) chant, inspired by the controversial incident in the first leg at La Rosaleda when two balls were on the pitch when Roberto scored the opening goal.

When the team finally arrived, they were swiftly guided to their bus by a significant police presence. But despite being shielded by the police, the players and staff were visibly moved by the scene and were keen to interact with those who had made the effort to come and see them.

Young winger Kevin, who is from the city, acted as the unofficial conductor of the celebration and grabbed a megaphone to lead the chant '¡A Segunda, Oé!' He then referenced a taunt from the opposition when Malaga found themselves two goals down in Tarragona, rallying the fans with the same chant.

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The emotional reunion with their supporters, although brief and heavily guarded, left a lasting impression - and continued the next day.

Open-top bus

Ñito Salas

After a brief rest for the players, the festivities continued later this Sunday afternoon, where fans had another opportunity to celebrate with their heroes, this time in the city itself.

The official programme began with an open-top bus leaving from La Rosaleda stadium at around 6pm to visit the nearby Iglesia de San Pablo church, home of the Cautivo brotherhood.

The squad were then received by local dignitaries at the Diputación de Málaga provincial authority building in Plaza de la Marina, near Calle Larios, before heading to the city hall.

Next, they were greeted by mayor Francisco de la Torre, with the players going out onto the balcony of the council building to receive the applause and adoration of the supporters.

Finally, to round off the day, the squad paid a visit to the patron saint of sport, the Divina Pastora, in Capuchinos (where each season begins with a floral offering at the shrine), followed by a team dinner.

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