GOTTINGEN, Germany — Mexico's national team arrived at its World Cup headquarters Friday night, greeted with a raucous -- almost crushing -- welcome by flag-draped fans from home.
"It's incredible to be here," midfielder Rafael Garcia said in remarks translated for the Associated Press by Mexican radio. "We are so excited. This is a great World Cup environment."
A crowd of more than 1,000 showed up at the team's hotel well before its two buses pulled up shortly after 6 p.m. Most were from Gottingen, but there was also a group of Mexican fans -- eventually growing to more than two dozen -- that chanted and sang nearly nonstop.
"I live here in Germany, and it's a very big thing to have the World Cup here," said flag-draped student Erica Beutelspacher, a native of Tuxtla in southern Mexico who now studies economics in Berlin. "I think they're going to do well. This is one of the best teams Mexico has ever had."
Another student, Mexico City native Luis Vaca, shouted himself hoarse while waiting for the team to arrive.
"I can't believe there are so many Germans who came to say hello to Mexico," said Vaca, who also wore a Mexican flag around his neck like a cape. "It's wonderful."
Mexico's players had a hard time believing it too.
"It's incredible," 19-year-old midfielder Andres Guardado said, also through an interpreter. "I don't have words to explain this environment."
The fans saved their loudest cheers -- and more -- for star forward Jared Borgetti, who scored Mexico's only goal in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Netherlands. When he stepped briefly out of the hotel, crowd control broke down for a few moments.