England fans may not have been able to welcome football home on Sunday, but plenty gathered to greet the national team as they returned.
Gareth Southgate’s men touched down in the heat and sunshine at Birmingham Airport following England’s best showing at a World Cup for 28 years.
England’s performances have rekindled a love for the national team among the public, and a sizable group of supporters gathered near the runway to welcome the team home.
Football may not have come home, but the England team are back from the World Cup
England landed at Birmingham Airport on Sunday afternoon as they returned from Russia
Raheem Sterling did keepy-uppys on the tarmac as England disembarked from the plane
Sterling started all of England’s most important games in their run to the final four
England’s players unexpectedly made it all the way to the semi-finals and came fourth
Eric Dier shakes hands with a member of the backroom staff as the squad finally splits
England manager Gareth Southgate embraces a member of the backroom team
A sizable group of fans gathered to welcome the team back home after their exploits
Despite the World Cup final kicking off at the same time, a good crowd was in evidence
Fans wearing England shirts and flying the cross of St George gathered near the security fences around the runway, eager to catch a glimpse of their heroes.
Eventually the players emerged, clutching bags and pillows, with stars such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier all visible for those who had made the journey.
Raheem Sterling even pulled out a ball and did some keepy-uppys near the runway as the players made their way back to the terminal.
Southgate was seen embracing members of his backroom team, after an emotional month where he has become an unexpected national hero.
Video of the team disembarking showed that Southgate was the last man off the plane, following his team, before they gathered for one final group photo.
While the crowd was not massive – due in part to the World Cup final between France and Croatia kicking off at the same time, and partially due to there being no dedicated viewing area set up – the presence of any welcome party shows how the England team have reconnected with their supporters over the past month.
England left from Birmingham on June 12, and returned having exceeded all expectations
Some labelled the airport ‘killjoys’ on Twitter after no official viewing area was set up for fans
England arrived back into Birmingham after flying from Saint Petersburg on Sunday
The players’ luggage is unloaded from the plane as England return as national heroes
Fans weren’t happy after Birmingham Airport confirmed that supporters would not be able to welcome the England squad home from the World Cup in a specialist viewing area.
One branded the airport as ‘killjoys’ when they tweeted to advise the public to stay away when the Three Lions returned from Russia.
England finished fourth, equaling their best showing in a World Cup on foreign soil – they previously reached the semi finals in Italy in 1990.
Earlier in Russia, manager Gareth Southgate waved goodbye to Russia after a great month
Harry Kane looks set to leave with the Golden Boot after scoring six times in the World Cup
England’s team bus leaves the hotel in Repino where the team were based for a month
England’s players and coaches had earlier boarded at Pulkovo Airport in Saint Petersburg, manager Southgate waving to the cameras as he led the players onto the plane out of Russia.
England enjoyed a brilliant campaign in Russia, beating Colombia and Sweden in the knockout stages after finishing second in the group stage.
Their campaign came to a halt when they lost 2-1 to Croatia in the semi-finals, with the goals coming from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic.
The players had left from Birmingham on June 12 with little fanfare or expectation – but they return with a lot more love on their side.