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Night owl fans are a hoot for Portugal

Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Portugal News Conference - Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis, France - 4/7/16 - Portugal's Andre Gomes during the news conference. REUTERS/John Sibley
Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Portugal News Conference - Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis, France - 4/7/16 - Portugal's Andre Gomes during the news conference. REUTERS/John Sibley

By Brian Homewood

MARCOUSSIS, France (Reuters) - Euro 2016 semi-finalists Portugal have been inspired by night owl supporters who wait outside their training camp for a glimpse of the players, even in the small hours of the morning.

Midfielder Andre Gomes said the Euro 2016 semi-finalists were routinely greeted by dozens of fans when they returned in the middle of the night from matches to their base in the village of Marcoussis outside Paris.

"We get here at three, four or five o'clock in the morning and there are countless Portuguese here to support us, to see us arrive and give us some words of support," he told reporters.

"They spend hours and hours outside, singing and calling our names and I want to thank them for their support. It gives us a huge advantage to receive so much support, even outside Portugal."

Portugal, who play Wales in the semi-finals on Wednesday, have adopted the French Rugby Federation's training headquarters as their home during the tournament and fly back to their base immediately after matches.

Fans wait at the gates even when there is no indication that the team is going to come out. There were jubilant scenes on Sunday when the players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, emerged to sign autographs and take selfies with supporters.

Gomes, 22, started Portugal's first four games but missed the quarter-final with a thigh muscle injury. But he said he expected to be fit to face Wales.

"It's tougher when you're on the outside," he said. "You suffer more. I hope to be an option, but we all respect the coach's decisions."

(Writing by Brian Homewood. Editing by Adrian Warner.)

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