Dortmund at a standstill for title celebrations
Almost 400,000 Borussia Dortmund supporters crammed streets to get a glimpse of their heroes during celebrations of the club's seventh league title on Sunday.
Players aboard a custom-built float struggled to pass through crowds secured by 1,500 police on a victory parade that took 4 1/2 hours to travel 3 1/2 miles as Dortmund was brought to a standstill.
Police had to intervene when the float was brought to a standstill too. Players were brought to the main stage near the Westfalen Stadium in police cars after being stuck on the closed-off B1 motorway for over an hour.
More fans were expected, with festivities due to last long into a second night after the team hoisted the league trophy on the final day of the season Saturday.
Dortmund's young side secured the Bundesliga title on April 30, when a 2-0 win over Nuremberg gave it an unassailable advantage over Bayer Leverkusen.
''Unbelievable,'' coach Juergen Klopp said as he surveyed a sea of yellow and black before him. ''Unbelievable day, and an unbelievable two weeks.''
Klopp - like many of his players - wore sunglasses to hide his eyes after apparently only getting two hours sleep the night before.
''We've dreamed of this,'' the 43-year-old said. ''It's absolutely crazy. To see what people have invested in this team, in this club, is incredible.''
Dortmund's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke - who helped steer the club to sound financial footing after it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in 2005 - was overwhelmed.
''It's hard to really believe this,'' Watzke said. ''The team has given the city its pride back.''
Dortmund forward Kevin Grosskreutz, who used to attend matches in the fabled ''yellow wall'' south stand, could barely contain his happiness as he sang songs to the crowds through a megaphone.
''I'm so happy!'' the 22-year-old announced. ''Nobody can take this from me. I was born here and I'll always love this club.''
Players were announced on stage one by one by their number to the accompaniment of Van Halen's ''Jump'', with fans shouting out the player's name before he appeared waving and smiling to the appreciative crowds.
Special receptions were reserved for the coach, the Real Madrid-bound Nuri Sahin, and local heroes Mario Goetze and Marcel Schmelzer, while the much-loved defender Brazilian Dede bid a tearful farewell after 13 years at the club.
''I want to thank the club, the president, the coach, the players, but I especially want to thank you,'' the 33-year-old told the crowd.
Dede referred to the club's problems after it secured its last title in 2002, particularly the bankruptcy fears: ''We had a bad time but we got through it. We got through it together.''
He added the sight of so many fans was something ''money can't buy'' and thanked fans for singing his name.
''That memory will stay in my head forever,'' Dede said as the tears flowed.