Argentina national soccer team stars Lionel Messi and Rodrigo De Paul, along with coach Lionel Scaloni, were forced into a helicopter flight over a historic landmark in downtown Buenos Aires after their bus crashed be found stuck in the massive crowd gathered to watch the parade celebrating the country’s World Cup victory, Argentina’s federal police said on Tuesday.
A bus carrying the whole team left from the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and was to head for the obelisk, a historical monument in the capital.
However, the bus could not move due to crowds gathering in the streets, Argentine Football Association president Claudio ‘Chiqui’ Tapia said on Tuesday.
“They won’t let us go and greet all the people who were at the obelisk, the same security agencies that escorted us, won’t allow us to move forward,” Tapia said.
“A thousand apologies on behalf of all champion players.”
The players were transported above the obelisk and other areas and then flown back to the AFA training site in Ezeiza, outside Buenos Aires, police said.
State news agency Telam reported that four million people came to see the parade in Buenos Aires, citing police.
According to Argentinian outlet InfoFunes, Messi and Ángel Di María returned to their quarters in their hometown of Rosario, province of Sante Fe, by helicopter after arriving by plane at the local airport in Rosario.
Messi finally arrived home by car to be greeted by huge crowds of fans celebrating his triumphant return, chanting “Dale Campeón, Dale Campeón” – “Let’s go champion”.
Fellow Santa Fe natives Scaloni and forward Ángel Correa also flew back, but InfoFunes reported it was via a late plane flight.
Tuesday had been declared a public holiday in Argentina after the team’s thrilling penalty shoot-out victory over France in Qatar on Sunday.
The team’s highly anticipated comeback continues for 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 called the greatest World Cup final of all time.
Mbappé was defending France’s 2018 victory at the tournament in Russia, while Messi, 35, played in what could be his last World Cup game, looking to lift the trophy that had eluded him for so long.
Argentina took an early lead in the first half thanks to a penalty from Messi and a magnificent counter-attacking goal from Di Maria, before France came back strong in the second half with two goals from Mbappé which forced the match to extend the match.
Messi scored his second goal of the match to restore his side’s lead – but Mbappé netted a second penalty to grab his hat-trick and lead the final to a penalty shootout, which ended in a triumph for the Argentina after France missed two of their shots on goal.