Football: Messi marries childhood sweetheart

Football star Lionel Messi and bride Antonella Roccuzzo just after their wedding ceremony at the City Centre casino in Rosario, Argentina on Friday. The couple's children Thiago, four, and Mateo, one, had front-row seats at the "wedding of the centur
Football star Lionel Messi and bride Antonella Roccuzzo just after their wedding ceremony at the City Centre casino in Rosario, Argentina on Friday. The couple's children Thiago, four, and Mateo, one, had front-row seats at the "wedding of the century", also attended by fellow footballers and celebrities, including pop singer Shakira.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ROSARIO (Argentina) • Football superstar Lionel Messi said "I do" to childhood sweetheart and mother of their two children Antonella Roccuzzo on Friday in his Argentinian hometown Rosario, where top 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.

Ms Roccuzzo donned a tight, mermaid-style white gown by Spanish designer Rosa Clara and Messi an Armani suit designed by Argentinian Claudio Cosano.

The couple's children Thiago, four, and Mateo, one, had front-row seats at the ceremony attended by some 260 guests, including Colombian singer Shakira and her husband, Messi's Barcelona teammate Gerard Pique. Among the footballers present were Barcelona strike partners Neymar and Luis Suarez, Chelsea playmaker Cesc Fabregas and Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero.

In a surprise moment for Ms Roccuzzo, arranged by Messi, Argentinian singer Abel Pintos ended the ceremony singing her favourite song Sin Principio ni final (Without Beginning Or End).

Argentinian 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 just nine years old. The wedding was held in the City Centre casino, which stands right next to a crime-ridden slum run by drug gangs.

According to the Daily Mail, the occasion was briefly interrupted by a group of workers representing 600 people who had recently been sacked from PepsiCo in the city. They took advantage of the media presence to protest with banners and chants.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 02, 2017, with the headline 'Football star Messi marries childhood sweetheart'. Print Edition | Subscribe