Everything was WHAOOO! as Lionel Messi has married his childhood sweetheart in his hometown in what has been called the “wedding of the century”.
A civil ceremony for Messi, 30, and Antonela Roccuzzo, 29, was held at a luxury hotel in the city of Rosario. Football stars and celebrities were among the 260 guests, with hundreds of police deployed for the event.
Messi, the Argentina and Barcelona forward, met Roccuzzo as a child before he moved to Spain aged just 13.
Among the guests at Friday’s wedding were Messi’s Barcelona teammates Luis Suárez, Neymar, Gerard Piqué and his wife, Colombia’s pop star Shakira, Samuel Eto’o and wife, Xavi and wife, Puyol and wife and Fabregas and wife. A number of guests flew into Rosario on private jets.
Argentina’s Clarín newspaper has variously called the wedding “the wedding of the year” and “the wedding of the century”. About 150 journalists received accreditation to enter a special press area, but were not given full access to the venue, organisers said.
Messi and Roccuzzo confiscated guests, phones but it appears one WAG may have taken a few sneaky snaps. Messi met Roccuzzo when he was just five years old. She is the cousin of his best friend, Lucas Scaglia, who also became a professional football player.
Curious onlookers gathered before the wedding near the heavily guarded site hoping to snap photos of the soccer stars.
“We think it’s great that Messi has come to Rosario to get married,” Julio Sosa, who cleans windows for a living, said.
Messi, 30, grew up in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in Rosario along with two brothers and a sister. His bride, 29, is the cousin of a close Messi friend and the new couple has been close friends since meeting at a young age.
Messi and Roccuzzo stayed in touch after he left to play soccer in Spain at age 13 and they eventually started a romantic relationship in the late 2000s.
Roccuzzo moved to Barcelona, where the couple live with their two sons: four-year-old Thiago and one-year-old Mateo. But they often return to their native Rosario.
“Messi could have had this wedding wherever he liked — Dubai, the moon. He can pay any plane ticket to anyone but he chose the city that’s in his heart,” Leandro Macaya said.
Messi, a five-time FIFA world player of the year, has faced criticism in Argentina because he has never brought the country a major title, in contrast to his repeated successes playing for Barcelona.
But he is praised both at home and abroad for keeping his common touch.
“He was always the same and he never changed,” Diego Vallejos, a childhood friend who was invited to the wedding, said.
“Despite everything that he’s accomplished in life, he’s still the same simple kid, the skinny dude that I grew up with.
“It’s hard to explain the feeling; I’m both a friend and a fan.”