England players return to muted reception in Birmingham | UK news

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England’s World Cup squad landed at Birmingham airport to a muted fanfare as they were greeted by a few hundred supporters behind barbed-wire fences.

Fans had been warned to stay away from the airport but about 400 cheered and clapped as the charter jet landed at 3.50pm on Sunday – 10 minutes before the World Cup final kicked off in Moscow.

The England manager, Gareth Southgate, had insisted there should be no official homecoming party despite overseeing the most successful campaign since 1990, when 200,000 people turned out for an open-top bus parade in Luton to welcome the team back from their semi-final defeat on penalties by West Germany.

The scene at Birmingham airport was far more low-key. Some fans had criticised the airport on social media, accusing “killjoy” officials of spoiling the party when it “strongly advised” supporters to stay away.

Huddled behind a perimeter fence in the afternoon sun, the crowd of supporters struggled to catch a glimpse of the players as they stepped from the charter jet that had left St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport about three and a half hours earlier.

A small crowd tries to get a glimpse of the England players



A small crowd tries to get a glimpse of the England players. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Live footage from a television helicopter showed captain Harry Kane assemble his team-mates on the airplane steps for a final team photograph before they all hugged and went their separate ways, but not before Raheem Sterling was seen playing with a football on the tarmac.

A smattering of flag-waving supporters lined the streets as the players were whisked away in a convoy of Mercedes-Benz cars.

England’s understated return was in sharp contrast to the scenes in Brussels, where jubilant fans greeted the Belgian national team during an open-top bus parade on Sunday. The celebration came a day after Belgium beat England 2-0 in the third-place playoff in St Petersburg.

Earlier on Sunday, the Labour party urged government ministers to “capitalise on the renewed passions for the national team” and bid to host the 2030 World Cup. It has been 52 years since the World Cup was last held in England and the 2030 tournament will mark the tournament’s centenary.

Meanwhile it has emerged that Sheffield could host England’s only World Cup homecoming celebration. Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Jamie Vardy and Danny Rose are all from South Yorkshire. Gary Cahill is from just south of Sheffield in Dronfield, Derbyshire, and Fabian Delph is from Bradford in West Yorkshire.

Eden Hazard is greeted by jubilant fans in Brussels, Belgium



The scenes were very different in Belgium, where the squad including Eden Hazard were greeted by jubilant fans in Brussels. Photograph: Yves Herman/EPA

Dan Jarvis, the Labour MP and Sheffield city region mayor, said it was a “no-brainer” to celebrate the success of South Yorkshire-born players but that it was for the city council to approve.

He said: “Players from our region have made an outstanding contribution to the World Cup. We should find an appropriate way to both recognise their achievements and maximise the legacy benefits for the next generation of talent.

“In general terms, I think it’s an absolutely fantastic idea. I think there would be a lot of support for it. Any event like that would be very well-attended and it would be a really good thing to demonstrate our thanks and a recognition of the contribution of players from the region to the England team in the World Cup.”

Any civic event would have to be signed off by Sheffield city council, whose leader, Julie Dore, had been keen for the city to play a significant role in any celebration of Southgate’s team. Dore wrote to the FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, before England’s semi-final defeat inviting the organisation to host any “welcome home” party in Sheffield.

The lord mayor of Sheffield, Magid Magid, said on Sunday he was “100% in favour” of hosting a civic reception and would urge his council colleagues to organise it as soon as possible.



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