Hometown heroes were honored on the steps of City Hall Tuesday afternoon by the mayor and legions of New Yorkers.
The New York City Football Club has the distinction of being the first sports team to bring a major championship back to the Big Apple after the blue team defeated Portland to claim the MLS cup. In order to honor the champions for their contributions to the city, a special celebration was held outside of City Hall on Dec. 14.
Hundreds of ecstatic fans poured into the grounds from City Hall Park, chanting, cheering, and waving scarves depicting the logo of their beloved soccer team. Hugging and even weeping, this will be the day many remember as the moment football finally came home to New York City.
Greeting the hundreds in attendance and the thousands more watching at home, the entire New York City Football Club and Mayor Bill de Blasio stood upon an erected stage in front of City Hall and thanked fans for their support.
“The team motto is For the City! This team lives it out. They inspire us, they make us feel hope even in the toughest moments. This is an amazing team for the ages and I have an official declaration on behalf of 8.8 million New Yorkers, it’s the truest, clearest thing, you can see it. Look all around New York City is blue! NYC is Blue,” exclaimed de Blasio.
Fans sang a chorus of cheers as it was promised that the team would not only win more championships but also will be given their own stadium in the future; however, specific details were not given. The occasion not only lit up the faces of fans, it also produced heartfelt speeches from the team as well.
“Congratulations New York City! The thing that makes me happy and gives me energy every day is to create something with other people, is to give everybody around me a chance to take their potential and fulfill their dreams,” said Ronny Deila, the coach of the New York City Football Club, “What we have achieved together is amazing, it’s unbelievable. I will remember it for the rest of my life. I almost want to start crying again, I don’t want to do that but it makes me emotional because it’s about people, it’s about being together. It’s about doing something together because you are nothing alone.”
Mayor de Blasio presented each player with a key to the city, symbolizing his gratitude for once again making his hometown a city of champions. Once all the men had been awarded their prize, the team triumphantly raised the MLS cup amidst a deluge of falling blue and white confetti.
In honor of the team and their championship victory, several New York landmarks will be lit in blue, including the Empire State Building.
“As I said before, we’ve been through a journey over the last couple of years right here in New York City. It’s not always been easy, there have been some difficult times. But we managed to make it here right now on this stage with this group of players who got the job done. But that journey has been a rollercoaster, and to say the least, this season has been eventful,” Ian Paul Joy said, a commentator from YES Network and the event’s Master of Ceremonies.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.