Mancini relives season finale

Roberto Mancini described the final moments of Manchester City’s decisive win over QPR as “the best and worst five minutes” of his and his players’ lives as an estimated 100,000 fans lined the streets to witness the team parade the Barclays Premier League trophy on an open-top bus tour of the city centre.

City are celebrating their first league title in 44 years after a dramatic last-gasp 3-2 victory over 10-man QPR at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Members of the victorious squad were invited to a private reception at Manchester town hall in the afternoon before taking to a stage to greet a huge crowd in the city’s Albert Square.

Controversial striker Mario Balotelli was the only notable absentee but he had been expected to report back to Italy for medical checks after being named in his country’s provisional squad for Euro 2012.

A large media gathering was also present as manager Roberto Mancini and a number of players were invited to address the fans before being driven around town.

Responding to big cheers, Mancini said: “I think we should be proud of these players because they did everything for you (the fans) – they wanted to win this championship for you.”

City’s title success will go down as one of the most dramatic in history, coming only on goal difference after Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero struck in injury time to see off battling QPR.

Mancini, wearing his trademark club scarf, said: “We had the best and worst five minutes in our lives.

“I think it was an incredible moment after we scored the third goal, but before it was very hard.”

Midfielder Gareth Barry said: “Days like this are why we came to City and it’s just fantastic.

“Our fans have always been amazing and they’re showing it here today. I’ve got memories I’ll treasure for the rest of my career.”

Goalkeeper Joe Hart said: “It was an incredible day yesterday but the support we’ve seen here on the streets today almost matches it.

“The fans are brilliant and that they think so much of me means everything. They know this is my club and the only place I want to be.”

Fans had started to gather outside the town hall from mid-afternoon and were treated to big-screen replays of the title-winning goals plus other notable games throughout the season.

City greats Mike Summerbee and Tony Book, members of the club’s last champion side in 1968, spoke to fans along with comedian Jason Manford and actor Warren Clarke, both celebrity fans.

There was also music and other entertainment while blue and white paper streamers were shot into the air in a spectacular display before the players boarded the bus.

Summerbee, who was involved in the trophy presentation party after City’s title-clinching win, said: “The people out here think so much of the club, these are proper supporters.

“This is what Manchester City is like. It is all about them, they are fabulous supporters and I am a supporter now myself.”

City’s arch-enemies Manchester United had been moments away from winning their 20th league title when Aguero scored in that sensational finale.

Summerbee said: “It was an amazing day, you couldn’t write the script, but I thought we were going to win all the way through. I kept the faith.”

Also present at the parade was former midfielder Patrick Vieira, who is now the club’s football development executive following his retirement last year.

Vieira said: “I still can’t believe it – losing 2-1 with five minutes to go, it’s unbelievable.

“All credit to the players for keeping believing in it.”

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