Argentine football star 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. 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”.
Earlier, crowds gathered at the local airport to try to spot some of the famous guests.
A private security firm was working inside the hotel to keep out potential gatecrashers.
About 150 journalists received accreditation to enter a special press area, but were not given full access to the venue, organisers said.
Where did the bride and groom meet?
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.
Messi accepted an offer to play for Barcelona when he was 13, on condition that they pay for treatment for his growth hormone deficiency.
He has spoken about the difficulties he faced on leaving behind his loved ones and former club.
The couple, who now live in Barcelona, have two sons together.
In May, his appeal against a 21-month jail term for tax evasion in Spain was rejected. He is unlikely to go to prison as the sentence can be served under probation or possibly avoided by paying a fine.
What do we know about the big day?
The event was held at Rosario’s City Center hotel complex, which has an adjoining casino.
Roccuzzo, 29, was widely expected to wear a dress by Rosa Clara, a Barcelona-based designer who has dressed actress Eva Longoria and Spain’s Queen Letizia.
Aside from a “sushi station”, the menu was a very Argentine affair, including empanadas (traditional pasties) and all parts of the cow, from a casserole of sweetbreads to blood sausage.
Who is on the guest list?
Messi invited the Barcelona squad, including Neymar, Luis Suárez and Gerard Piqué, who arrived in Rosario in a private jet with his wife, Colombian pop-star Shakira.
Teammates from Argentina’s national team, including Sergio Agüero, were also present.
Clarín reported that Messi did not invite any of his recent coaches, including Pep Guardiola, who is now at Manchester City.
Argentina’s other big football legend, Diego Maradona, was also omitted from the list, according to the local press.
Where is Rosario?
The port city of Rosario sits on the banks of the Paraná, about 300km north-west of Buenos Aires in the centre of the country.
Another famous Argentine to have spent his early years here is Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Messi is known locally simply as Lío.
He has been a local hero since his days as a star player for Newell’s Old Boys.
The team has a staunch rivalry with nearby Rosario Central, similar to that of Boca Juniors and River Plate in Buenos Aires.
Since moving to Spain, Messi has won a record-breaking five Fifa Ballon d’Or awards.
He is often compared to football legends like Pele and Maradona and it won’t be a surprise if he overtakes them soon. Here are 50interesting facts about Lionel Messi. His full name is Luis Lionel Andres Messi. Messiwas born on June 24, 1987 in Rosario, Argentina.
Barcelona paid for Lionel Messi’s hospital bills
It is well-known that Lionel Messi was diagnosed with Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD) at age 11, a condition that forces him to take a whole bunch of HGH. The treatment that cost $900 a month 16 years ago, was something that Messi’s family were not financially up for. It was Barcelona who intervened, and knowing Messi’s potential, it wasn’t long until he was called for a trial at the club. Barcelona then offered to pay Messi’s medical bills on the condition that he moved to Spain.
It was a piece of napkin that started Lionel Messi’s career at Barcelona
It was December 14, 2000, when Barcelona’s sporting director Carles Rexach held a meeting with 13-year-old Lionel Messi’s father Jorge so as to determine the future of the young prodigy. Interestingly, the contract was signed on a napkin which was the closest piece of paper. Who knew this napkin would turn out to be one of the most important sporting documents in all of history?
Even after all the fame and money, Messi maintains a close connection with Rosario
Lionel Messi has always been in touch with his old buddies from Rosario, and is said to be in daily contact with them via text messages. Messi once made a three hour trip by car to Rosario just to have dinner with his family after training, and returned to Buenos Aires the next day in time for practice. He still owns his old house in Argentina, even though he hasn’t been staying there for almost half of his life now.
Not surprisingly, he is also the international ambassador of Rosario, his hometown..
Messi is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF
It was announced on 11 March 2010 that Messi will be one of the goodwill ambassadors for UNICEF, a tie that is supported by Barcelona who have had a strong association with UNICEF. Messi’s role is to aim at supporting children’s rights. Messi has donated €600,000 for the renovation of a children’s hospital in Rosario, his hometown.
He is a big foodie
Lionel Messi’s coach in the initial stage of his career had a special kind of training regime, where Messi was promised a alfajor (atraditional confection in Argentina) every time he would score a goal. His favourite cuisine is said to be the Barcelona mavin, and his favorite dish is escalope Milanese. When former manager Pep Guardiola was given the reigns of the team, Messi’s excess love for food was an issue he had to tackle, which he did which resulted in the press calling Messi “the star of porcelain” for his unhealthy lifestyle related injuries.
Another funny instance is that Guardiola had to remove a Coca-Cola vending machine the team had in their training center, only so as to prevent Messi from abusing it.
it’s harder to get Messi on the phone than to interview God
These are the words of Argentinian legend Diego Maradona who relates to the reporters and journalists who could die for an interview with the three-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Roman Besa, a journalist at El Pais also told the world a side of his own story. “One day, Lionel entered the field with a plastic spoon in his mouth. He did not let go until the end of the session. It was a way to show that he was upset. For what reason? Nobody knew and nobody has ever tried to find out.”
It is also said that Messi usually uses his relatives to communicate, and only uses text messages for important messages.
Messi only speaks Catalan when he is drunk
Lionel Messi barely speaks Catalan, even though he can speak it fluently. However, one evening while celebrating Barcelona’s league title win, he made an exception while on top of the bus.
He took the megaphone and screamed: “Visca el Barça, visca Catalunya there aguante Argentina, la concha de su madre! ” which roughly translates to: “Long Live Barca, Long live Catalonia, and Argentina!”
The funny part? He was drunk then.
Messi shares his birthday month and city with Che Guevara
Lionel Messi and Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara have a lot of common traits in between them, from having the same birth-place which is Rosario, the largest city in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina to the same birthday month which is June.
“I’ll go elsewhere and find the Argentina shirt with my name on it and it is so cool. I’m excited when see flags of Che Guevara, Diego [Maradona] from Argentina anywhere in the world, I have strong feelings for that,” said the same Messi two years back who now shares the same honour in Argentina.
Messi has a tattoo as a tribute to his son and mother
After the birth of his first child Thiago, Lionel Messi had his son’s name tattooed on his calf last year. It wasn’t his first since he already had a potrait of his mother, Celia Cuccitini inked on his left shoulder.