Lionel Messi said “I do” to childhood sweetheart and mother of their two children Antonella Roccuzzo on Friday in his Argentine hometown Rosario, where footballers and celebrities gathered for the “wedding of the century.”
Following the private ceremony, the couple appeared happy and relaxed as they walked a red carpet before hundreds of journalists at a hotel and casino complex, Roccuzzo donning a tight, mermaid-style gown by Spanish designer Rosa Clara.
The couple’s children Thiago, four, and Mateo, one, had front seats at the ceremony attended by some 260 guests, including Shakira and her husband, Messi’s teammate Gerard Pique, and numerous footballers such as Messi’s Barcelona strike partnersNeymar and Luis Suarez.
Argentine media called it the “wedding of the century” for Rosario, the gritty northern port city where Messi, 30, and his bride, 29, met when the player was nine years old.
Former Barca and current Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas was in attendance, along with Argentina and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero.
The party was to be a respite for Messi from his legal woes. A Spanish court last month rejected his appeal against a tax fraud conviction.
Paris Saint Germain’s footballer Angel di Maria (R), Boca Juniors’ footballer Fernando Gago (C) and Sevilla’s footballer Ever Banegas pose with their wives during Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo’s wedding. (Image: AFP)
Brunette bride Roccuzzo wore a white, curve-hugging dress with a deep sweetheart neckline and embroidered straps by Rosa Clara — a Spanish designer who has dressed actress Eva Longoria and Spain’s Queen Letizia.
The wedding was held at 2200 GMT in the City Center casino, which stands right next to a crime-ridden slum run by drug gangs.
The civil wedding ceremony and party were all slated to take place inside the venue, and the guests will be lodged there too.
The feast will reportedly feature Argentine delicacies such as roast gizzards.
Uruguayan pop bands Rombai and Marama plus singer Karina, Aguero’s wife, will perform at the reception.
There were also rumors that there would be singing by Shakira, the Colombian diva famous for “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Whenever, Wherever.”
Shakira had recently denied rumors that she would miss the wedding due to a quarrel with Roccuzzo.
Messi and Roccuzzo live in Barcelona where he plays, but still return regularly to Rosario for vacations.
He moved to Spain when he was 13 to join FC Barcelona, but the couple kept in touch.
Messi has gone on to win the top Ballon d’Or award five times and is widely regarded as the world’s best footballer.
AFP and NPO