"Those heroes have shown the real Iraq. They have done something useful for the people as opposed to the politicians and lawmakers," said Sabah Shaiyal, a 43-year-old policeman in Baghdad's main Shiite district of Sadr City. "The players have made us proud. Once again our national team has shown that there is only one, united Iraq."Find blog posts, photos, events and more off-site about:
Spontaneous celebrations broke out in religiously mixed Baghdad as well as in Basra and the holy Shiite city of Najaf in the south and northern Kurdish towns like Arbil and Kirkuk.
Fans cried and danced in the streets, waving their shirts in the air and hugging.
Soldiers with their rifles slung over their shoulders danced with ordinary Iraqis in Baghdad while children, their faces painted in the Iraqi colours, held up pictures of their heroes.
While mainly comprised of Shiites, the team was captained by a Sunni Turkman from Kirkuk — goal-scoring hero Younis Mahmoud — and also contained Sunni Arab and Kurdish players in a broad representation of Iraqi society.
In Baghdad's Sadr City, a sprawling Shiite slum, women threw sweets to gathering fans and poured water over crowds in sweltering summer heat.
"A thousand congratulations for all Iraqis," another fan said.
Television presenters, draped in the red, white and black Iraqi flag, dissolved into tears. One Iraqiya television reporter was engulfed by a crowd in Baghdad and re-emerged on the shoulders of chanting fans.
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