Uruguay captain Diego Godin said his team had “a great World Cup” despite losing in the quarterfinals to France, and he thanked the fans who waited until the wee hours to welcome the squad home on its return from Russia.Also Read - Real Madrid Cruise to Win; Barca Held in Granada

“We were one match away from being in a World Cup semifinal once again,” the Atletico Madrid defender said. “We had a great World Cup and, obviously, we were trying for more, the dream and aspiration are always to be on top, but the balance is positive and we bring back good memories because I think that, in general, we had beautiful experiences.” Also Read - UEFA Champions League: Draw Declared Null and Void Following Technical Glitch; To be Re-Done at 15:00 CET

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The Uruguayan national team arrived at 3:30 am at Carrasco International Airport on the outskirts of Montevideo and was received by thousands of people who had been gathering since midnight to welcome their heroes despite the chilly winter weather.

Fans had been waiting for more than three hours for the soccer players, and when they came out the crowd chanted “soy celeste,” waving flags and banners thanking both the athletes and coach Oscar Washington Tabarez.

Godin said he and his teammates were “very thankful” for the respect and warmth of Uruguayans before, during and after the team’s participation in the World Cup.

Referring to the match against France, which ended Uruguay’s World Cup hopes, Godin said the players felt they could have won but faced “a great rival” that managed to pull off the victory.

“To come back from two goals down became more difficult, although with the 1-0 it was becoming hard already,” Godin said. “We had some chances, but when the score was 2-0 it turned out to be very challenging to surmount and more so to even the score.”