Hartlepool Eurovision star Michael Rice given hero's welcome as he arrives home
Eurovision star Michael Rice has received a hero's welcome on arriving home in Hartlepool.
The singer was greeted by scores of family, friends and neighbours outside his home this afternoon.
Michael, 21, who less than 48 hours earlier performed in front of millions of viewers in the song contest in Tel Aviv, thanked them for their 'incredible' support.
He will relax for a couple of days before returning to London to discuss exciting new opportunities.
He said: "I feel absolutely on top of the world. I've got an album coming out and record label meetings.
"I'm just pleased to be home and celebrate with all these people. I've been away for so many weeks now so it's going to be nice to just chill for a little bit.
"It was an incredible experience from the beginning and I'm really thankful for the whole journey.
"It really has just been a dream come true."
Michael said the support fans at home and all around the country had been brilliant.
A sell out crowd of 200 people cheered him on on Saturday night at Hartlepool Borough Hall and fans welcomed him when he got off the plane at Heathrow on Monday.
And he happily posed for photos and chatted with supporters outside his home.
"The support from Hartlepool and the North East is incredible," he said.
"It means the absolute world to me. Everyone here is just so supportive, the community has really come together."
And despite the UK coming last with the song Bigger Than Us, Michael refused to be downhearted.
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He added: "I know we smashed the performance and the whole team around me did incredible.
"I sang my heart out and that's all I can do."
Michael revealed that after the performance presenter Graham Norton rushed over and told him how proud he was.
Michael's mum Stephanie Langley, 38, was also proud and feeling positive for his future.
"It has been fantastic. He has worked so hard but he's loved it.," she said.
"He's got to see places he would never have seen. I'm really proud.
"It's a dream come true for him."
Among the wellwishers welcoming Michael home were family friends Tara Stallard and Diane Watson who had T-shirts made backing Michael.
Tara said: "We are absolutely over the moon with how Hartlepool has backed him."
Diane added: "This is just the start, he's going to go far. Hartlepool is really proud of him."
Near neighbours Norman and Pauline Hope waved a big Union Jack flag to welcome him home.
Norman, 77, said: "He's done us proud. He is only young and to stand on that stage without nerves I thought he was brilliant."
Pauline added: "Its nice to have something good for the town. He has put Hartlepool on the map in a good way."