Zagreb, Croatia – “France might have won the World Cup but Croatia has won our hearts.”
This meme was doing the rounds on social media following Croatia’s 4-2 loss in the World Cup 2018 final on Sunday.
This emotion was clearly visible in Zagreb when around half a million supporters welcomed the football back home on Monday – that is more than one-tenth of the country’s entire population.
“Thank you Croatia, thank you Zagreb. We achieved our dream,” Luka Modric, team captain and winner of the Golden Ball, said after the team’s arrival on a stage set in the city centre.
“We are not World champions but we are runners-up. You understood that we did our best and that the boys gave their best,” said coach Zlatko Dalic while constantly getting interrupted by the crowd chanting “champions, champions”.
The city was in a festive mood even before the final. And while that mood kept fluctuating throughout the final, a sense of pride and satisfaction prevailed despite the loss.
|Flares, cheering and flags welcomed the team bus into the city centre [Marko Djurica/Reuters]|
On Monday, fans started gat