ICELAND SOCCER UEFA EURO 2016.jpg
Iceland supporters attend a welcoming ceremony for their national soccer team players in Reykjavik, Iceland, 04 July 2016.
Photograph: EPA/ASGEIR VALGERDARSON ICELAND OUT

Icelandic football fans received the island's national side like conquering heroes, as the team returned home Monday night after being eliminated in the quarterfinals of their first-ever European championships.

Tens of thousands - in a country in the North Atlantic with a population of 330,000 - celebrated the team's underdog performance to survive the group stage and beat England before a 5-2 loss to France.

Crowds gathered at Reykjavik's Arnarholl, a hill where the Supreme Court building is located, and in streets throughout the capital.

Departing co-coach Lars Lagerbaeck called it a magnificent reception, saying the team had only a partial sense while playing at the Euro in France of the excitement back home. Players waved from atop an open double-decker bus.

"But now to see the people waving along the way from the airport to the city centre is simply fantastic," Lagerbaeck said.

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