MADRID: Real Madrid captain Marcelo bid a tearful farewell as the players celebrated winning a 14th European Cup at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 1-0 at the Stade de France on Saturday night, with Vinicius Junior scoring the winning goal to secure the club their fifth Champions League title in the last nine seasons.
To celebrate the success, the players took the trophy on an open-top bus tour around Madrid on Sunday, which included stops at the Almudena Cathedral, regional government headquarters, City Hall, Plaza Cibeles and finally the Santiago Bernabeu.
Marcelo led the celebrations and broke into tears as he was presented to the crowd inside the stadium. The Brazilian has been at Real Madrid since 2007 and leaves this summer after collecting his fifth Champions League trophy.
"It is a wonderful moment in my life, I close a cycle here, at the best club in the world," Marcelo said in a speech to the fans. "Today is not a day of sadness, it is a day of joy because we have won again, the best competition in the world."
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had earlier told the team to turn their attention to winning a 15th European Cup next season.
"Real Madrid has made history again and here is our 14th European Cup and 35th La Liga trophy," Perez said at the regional government headquarters.
"This European Cup, won against a legendary club like Liverpool, will be remembered as one of the greatest in the history of the Champions League.
"This club's legend grows bigger and bigger. We have beaten four of the best teams in Europe by fighting and always believing until the end.
"It has been a wonderful season and it has been achieved in one of the most beautiful and difficult times in our history. Five Champions Leagues in eight years is something very difficult for football fans to forget from all over the world. Madrid is eternal. And now, let's go for the 15th."
'HAVEN'T SLEPT MUCH'
Perez also praised Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who this season has become the first coach to win four European Cups and the first to win all five major European leagues.
"He symbolises what Real Madrid is," said Perez.
Dressed in black suits, white shirts and black ties, the Real Madrid players paraded the Champions League and La Liga trophies at each location, while also signing shirts, giving autographs and posing for photos with their adoring fans.
On top of the bus, the players put on Real Madrid shirts that had the number 14 and 'champions' written on the back.
"I haven't slept much, I had too much adrenaline to be able to sleep," said Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid's goalkeeper who was named man of the match in the final.
"I still couldn't believe it, it's an incredible feeling. For me it's an honour to play for Real Madrid and I hope I can help the team win more."
Thousands of fans gathered at Plaza Cibeles, the central square at the end of Gran Via, where the club traditionally celebrates its biggest successes around the statue of the goddess Cybele.
Marcelo tied a Real Madrid scarf around the statue's crown, draped a flag around its neck and kissed its cheek, before hoisting the Champions League trophy to huge cheers.
Marcelo was wearing five large gold rings on his fingers, one for each of his Champions League victories.
The players took it turns to sing songs to the crowd while Eden Hazard made a pledge for next season. "It's been three years of injuries and other things but next season I will do everything for you," Hazard told the supporters.
The players then took the bus to the Santiago Bernabeu, where they were presented to the fans one by one.
Gareth Bale, who will leave this summer after a turbulent last few years at Real Madrid, was applauded and cheered by the supporters, with Bale applauding them in return.
"Thank you for all the support," said Ancelotti in a short speech. "What a season, what a season. In this stadium, we've had a nice time, a really nice time. We are all Madridistas like you." -- AFP