Baghdad:Iraq's national football team arrived in Baghdad to roaring celebrations on Friday following its maiden Asian Cup triumph, a victory that has inspired the entire nation.
Despite heavy security and a curfew on the Muslim day of prayer, hundreds of fans negotiated a series of check points to reach the airport and welcome their all-conquering heroes.
Even though some of the players, including captain Younis Mahmoud, stayed away, the celebrations were far from muted.
The Iraqis, nicknamed the "lions of Mesopotamia", had a dream run in the cup, beating firm favourites Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final.
The team is a snapshot of the country's religious and ethnic groups and is hailed by many as proof that Iraq can overcome its sectarian differences.