Sunday 15 September 2019

Lionel Messi marries stunning childhood sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo in Argentine home town

Newlyweds Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo pose for photographers after tying the knot in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. About 250 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona star, attended the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Newlyweds Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo pose for photographers after tying the knot in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. About 250 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona star, attended the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and his girlfriend Karina Tejeda pose for a photo as they arrive to attend the wedding of Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo, in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. Some 260 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona soccer star are attending the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Barcelona FC's Luis Suarez, teammate of Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi, gestures next to his wife Sofia Balbi as they pose for photographers as they arrive at the wedding of Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo pose at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Carles Puyol and girlfriend Vanessa Lorenzo, pose for photographers as they arrive for the wedding of Lionel Messi and his childhood sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo, in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. Some 260 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona soccer star, will attend the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Jordi Alba and girlfriend Romarey Ventura pose on the red carpet after attending the wedding of Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo, in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. About 250 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona soccer star, attended the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Uruguayan soccer star Luis Suarez and wife Sofia Balbi walk out on to the red carpet after attending the wedding of Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo, in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. About 250 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona soccer star, attended the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Barcelona FC player Xavier Hernandez and his wife Nuria Cunillera arrive to attend the wedding of Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo, in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. About 250 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona soccer star, are attending the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi's parents Jorge and Celia and his sister Maria Sol pose at his wedding to Antonela Roccuzzo in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Actor Nicolas Vazquez (L) and soccer players Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Mascherano and his wife Fernanda pose for photographers at the wedding of Lionel Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo pose at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo pose as two women hold her dress at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo kiss as they pose at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo pose at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Newlywed Lionel Messi flashes a thumbs up as he and his bride Antonella Roccuzzo come out on to a red carpet to pose for photographers, after tying the knot in a civil ceremony in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. About 250 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona star, attended the highly anticipated ceremony.(AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Carles Puyol, former Barcelona FC teammate of Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi, and his wife Vanessa Lorenzo pose for photographers as they arrive for the wedding of Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo make an appearance for the press at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo pose at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo make an appearance for the press at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo make an appearance for the press at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo kiss as they pose at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Cameroon soccer player Samuel Eto'o and his wife Georgette pose for photographers as they arrive to the wedding of Argentina soccer player Lionel Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi's former Barcelona FC teammate Xavi Hernandez and his wife Nuria Cunillera pose for photographers as they arrive to the wedding of Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi's former Barcelona FC teammate Cesc Fabregas and his wife Daniella Semaan pose for photographers as they arrive to the wedding of Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi's former Barcelona FC teammate Cesc Fabregas and his wife Daniella Semaan pose for photographers as they arrive to the wedding of Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and his girlfriend Karina Tejeda smile as they arrive to attend the wedding of Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo, in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. Some 260 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona soccer star are attending the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Samuel Eto'o, right, and wife Georgette pose for a photo as they arrive for the wedding of Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. Some 260 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona soccer star, are attending the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Carles Puyol, from right to left, Vanessa Lorenzo, Cesc Fabregas, Daniella Semaan, Xavier Hernandez and Nuria Cunillera, pose on the red carpet as they arrive to attend the wedding of Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo, in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. About 250 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona soccer star, are attending the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, left, and Daniella Semaan pose for a photo before the start of the wedding of Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo, in Rosario, Argentina, Friday, June 30, 2017. Some 260 guests, including teammates and former teammates of the Barcelona soccer star, are attending the highly anticipated ceremony. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
A guest arrives to the wedding of Argentina soccer player Lionel Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo after tying the knot in Rosario (AP)

Argentine football great Lionel Messi has married his childhood sweetheart in his home town, in front of some of the biggest names in the game.

About 250 guests attended the wedding of Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo at a luxury hotel, including Messi's Barcelona teammates Neymar, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique, who was joined by his wife, Colombian pop star Shakira.

Argentines were abuzz over the wedding in Rosario, an agricultural hub and the country's third-largest city about 186 miles north west of Buenos Aires.

About 150 journalists were allowed to cover the event, but had no direct access to the ceremony or the party afterwards.

Onlookers gathered before the wedding near the heavily-guarded site, hoping to snap photos of the stars.

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Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo make an appearance for the press at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

"We think it's great that Messi has come to Rosario to get married," said window cleaner Julio Sosa.

Messi, 30, grew up in a lower-middle-class neighbourhood in Rosario along with two brothers and a sister.

His bride, 29, is the cousin of a close Messi friend and the new couple have been close friends since meeting at a young age.

Messi and Ms Roccuzzo stayed in touch after he left to play football in Spain at 13 and they eventually started a romantic relationship in the late 2000s.

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Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo make an appearance for the press at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Ms Roccuzzo moved to Barcelona, where the couple live with their two sons, Thiago, four, and Mateo, one, but 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," said Leandro Macaya.

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.

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Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo kiss as they pose at their wedding in Rosario, Argentina, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

But he is praised both at home and abroad for keeping his common touch.

"He was always the same and he never changed," said Diego Vallejos, a childhood friend who was invited to the wedding.

"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."

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