Croatia’s national football team rode through this capital in triumph aboard an open-top bus for more than five hours on their return from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where they reached the final before succumbing 2-4 to France.Also Read - Steven Bergwijn Leads Netherlands to World Cup Qualification

More than 500,000 people, according to police, filled the streets of Zagreb – population 800,000 – to welcome the squad home on Monday. Also Read - Hungary Stun Poland in World Cup Qualifiers; England Qualify With 10-0 Win

“We have realized our dream,” team captain and Real Madrid standout Luka Modric said, reports Efe. Also Read - International Travel All Set to Resume For Vaccinated Tourists, Singapore And Malaysia Still Hesitant

Modric, who was voted best player of the 2018 World Cup for his part in leading dark horse Croatia to the final, then led the multitude in singing a traditional patriotic song.

Another star, Ivan Rakitic, was greeted with chants of “Ivan, Ivan, Ivan.”

“It’s impossible to describe these feelings,” the FC Barcelona midfielder said adding: “We are truly proud of having defended our colours.”

Croatia, a nation of roughly 4.5 million people, became the second-smallest country to reach a World Cup final behind two-time winners Uruguay.