Between 70,000 and 80,000 people gathered at Zagreb's main Ban Josip Jelacic Square by 15:00 hours on Monday to give a heroes' welcome to the national football team, despite their 4-2 defeat to France in the World Cup final played on Sunday in Moscow.
The number of fans is expected to increase to 100,000 by the time the motorcade carrying vice-champions from the airport reaches the main square. In spite of attracting enormous crowds in the city and especially along the motorcade route, no incidents have been reported.
After the Croatia Airlines plane carrying the national team had landed at Zagreb Airport at 15:22, the silver medalists boarded an open rooftop bus and proceeded towards the main square, which will host the main welcoming ceremony.
A number of other prominent sportspeople also appeared at the main square to greet the footballers join the revellers pouring in from all over the country, including World Champion gymnast Tin Srbic, and a former member of the Croatian national water polo team Dubravko Simenc.
Srbic told reporters he was so proud of everything that had been happening in Croatia over the past month, and that the meaning of this unprecedented success was more important than just football. Simenc praised team manager Zlatko Dalic, and said that only sports achievements could cause such an outpouring of emotion like this.
Croatian boxing legend Zeljko Mavrovic also joined the fans in the main square waiting for the silver medalists from Russia.
The bus carrying footballers is slowly plowing through the city's main avenues and is expected to arrive at the main square later on Monday afternoon.