Deafening cheers and flashing cameras surround the arrival gate.
The source of the excitement,… the South Korean men's under-20 football team.
Reaching the final of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Poland, the Taegeuk Warriors arrived home Monday morning to a heroes' welcome at Incheon International Airport.
After some interviews and photoshoots,… the team headed to the official welcoming ceremony in downtown Seoul.
The players met with fans and the media at the ceremony at Seoul Plaza on Monday lunchtime.
Some 2-thousand football fans gathered to see the 21-man squad for the first time since they left for Poland earlier last month.
The fans, who have only been able to watch their journey to the final on TV,… showed their delight ahead of their meeting with the players.
"I came because of my obsessive love for football as a passionate fan. I can’t express how excited I am. I even changed my work schedule just to come here and welcome the players who performed so much better than expected."
"I got up really early today to see Lee Gang-in in person because I’m a huge fan. As I watched the U-20 games, I got to like the players that I haven’t noticed before. I came here to give a huge round of applause to all of them for a well fought game."
During the welcoming ceremony,… players received questions which fans asked through SNS.
When the star player Lee Kang-in was asked how he felt about winning the golden ball at the age of 18, just like Lionel Messi had done some 14 years ago,… he replied humbly that he didn't win the award alone.
"Like I said earlier today, I wouldn’t have earned the award if it wasn’t for the help of the other team members, the support of the coaching staff, and the people off the pitch."
And the great tactician of the team, head coach Chung Jung-yong,… who received huge credit for taking the team so far, echoed Lee's words, saying that such an achievement was possible only because of everyone's hard work.
"I feel that all the citizens of South Korea have contributed to making this remarkable result. Also, there's no such thing as a good king, rather the people make a good king, meaning I wouldn't be here if it weren't for my players."
After the main event, fans got a chance to take photos with the team members before the squad officially disbands and the players head back to their respective club or university teams.
The young Taeguek Warriors, who thrilled fans and gave the whole country something to cheer for, have reached the end of their adventure in Poland, but fans know that they will return with even bigger goals in the future.
Won Jung-hwan, Arirang News.