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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 06:37 GMT 07:37 UK
Italy's World Cup party rocks Berlin
By Sam Wilson
BBC News, Berlin

Giovanni Schelfi and his friends converged on Berlin from all directions. They did not want to miss this moment.

"I am 23. I was not born when Italy won the World Cup last time, in 1982," Giovanni says.

Fans celebrate Italy's World Cup win outside the team hotel in Berlin
We never win on penalties - and we score five in a row! Cloud nine!
Roberto Fattorusso
Italy fan

"So this is the greatest moment - it is the first time I've seen Italy win anything. It's totally great. I'm just shaking. I'm destroyed."

He and his friends are sitting quietly beneath the trees that line Berlin's Strasse des 17 Juni, struggling to take in what they have seen. Giovanni admits they have been drinking all day, and need some time to gather themselves before rejoining the party going on around them.

All Italians, they arrived before the match on Sunday from Nuremberg, Amsterdam and Italy, and will part again on Monday. But they do not want to miss any of the fun in the meantime.

"We are going to make a party the whole night, and then we go back, without sleeping. We just sleep on the street," says Giovanni.

Red, white and green

Nearby, other Italians are savouring the moment - hugging, singing, blowing horns or dancing.

HAVE YOUR SAY
10/10 for the Germans' hospitality and organisation
Mech Man, Portsmouth, UK

There is still a feeling of release, after the tension of penalties.

"I was really scared all the way through - it was typical Italian - we can't win convincingly, it's always the last minute," says Roberto Fattorusso.

"It went to penalties - we never win on penalties - and we score five in a row! Cloud nine!" says Roberto, who hails from London.

There seem to be as many Italians from outside Italy as from Italy itself.

And then there are those who are just Italian for the day.

They look like the real thing - with Italian shirts on, or an Italian flag, or hats and face paint in red, white and green.

"I just love Italy and the Italians," says American Lorna Brookes, who has no Italian blood but a sky blue shirt.

'Great party'

Many of the neutrals plumped for Italy, and many of those who picked France have now quietly foresworn their allegiance and are dancing away with as much gusto as the Azzuri.

The climax of the World Cup party has been an occasion for everyone, with dozens of nations represented.

Italy fans celebrate World Cup victory in Berlin
Many neutrals chose to support the Italian side for the final
There are hordes of Mexicans, whose flag can conveniently pass as Italian, the usual battalions of Brazilians, and the Poles who made a last-minute pilgrimage, staking out their corner of Strasse des 17 Juni with their rucksacks and roll-mats.

German Adeline Beiter, who has been dancing to some Italian favourites close to the Brandenburg Gate, says it is a fitting end to the tournament.

"It is a very big and great party," she says. "There are Brazilians, Italians, Germans, there are every nation and they are going to party together.

"A great end for a great World Cup. It was a real big party and was very good for the nation of Germany."

'Tough match'

There are some, of course, who are in no mood to celebrate.

"France were better than Italy," insists Matheu Schmitt, a Frenchman. "But penalties are a lottery."

A French fan mourns her team's World Cup defeat
French fans are at a loss to explain Zidane's moment of madness
He and Simon Robin look as miserable as can be. "Italy were a good team, but were very, very lucky," says the latter. "This is my last beer, then I'm going home."

It is not a view shared by all their countrymen.

"It was a tough match, but the Italians were much better and deserve it," says Amandine Cleret.

"And Zidane did something really, really bad."

She, like many French, is at a loss to explain the moment of madness that got their hero sent off.

"Maybe the Italians did something nasty to him, I don't know. It was his last match, maybe he got crazy, I just don't know," she adds.

Anyway, she is not going to dwell on it. "We're going to celebrate, of course, have some drinks. I live here in Berlin, and my boyfriend is Italian, so I have no choice."

She is not alone. Thousands of others are determined to see out the World Cup in style, and even after midnight open-top buses are arriving, bringing fans from the stadium to Brandenburg Gate, where the party was set to last through the night.


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