The clock finally struck midnight on Iceland's epic Cinderella run at the 2016 Euro tournament Sunday via a 5-2 drubbing at the hands of host France. But even though the team came up short in its seemingly impossible championship goal, it got quite a heroes' welcome when arriving back home Monday.
Despite a relatively small population of approximately 330,000, Iceland had a supremely passionate fan base at the tournament. And as the players returned home, these fans produced a goosebumps-worthy moment. In this video posted to journalist Simon Ricketts' Twitter account, a group reportedly consisting of 33,000 fans gave the squad its national cheer, the Viking Clap, in perfect unison:
Iceland’s football team arrive home. What a welcome this is. pic.twitter.com/fF3vl1mIhP
— SimonNRicketts (@SimonNRicketts) July 4, 2016
Iceland's spectacular run was certainly worthy of such praise. Iceland had never qualified for any major international tournament in the soccer team's 86-year history. Rated 34th in the FIFA World Rankings entering the tournament – 24th out of teams in UEFA – the team barely made the cut for the 2016 Euros, where it was the lowest seeded team in its group.
But the squad managed to go unbeaten in its three pool-play games, including a stunning 2-1 victory over world No. 10 Austria, before it then upset No. 11 England in the knockout stage by the exact same score.
Although the team came up short against France – which hasn't lost a single match at a major international tournament it hosted since 1960 – Iceland, along with world No. 26 Wales (which will face No. 8 Portugal in Wednesday's semifinals), absolutely stole fans' hearts throughout the continent with its epic run of upsets.
And as is fairly evident from the home crowd's reaction, the players will go down as legends for giving Iceland a run it will never forget.