Lionel Andrés Messi, popularly known as Leo Messi, is one of the most famous soccer players in the world. At 17, Leo became the youngest official player and goal scorer in the Spanish La Liga, Spain’s highest division of football. He was incredibly talented, quick, and precise, often having full control of the ball as he played on the field. Over the course of his impressive career with the Spanish giants, Leo scored 672 goals. He recently led his Argentina team to victory in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, further cementing himself as one of the greatest athletes of all time.
The 35-year-old professional not only has it all when it comes to sports – his love life is picture-perfect as well. In fact, he’s been with his wife for over 20 years! Here's the story of how Leo and his first love came to be.
Leo Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo’s Love Story
Leo met the love of his life, Antonela Roccuzzo, when he was only 5 years old. Thanks to Antonela's cousin and friend, Lucas Scaglia, the pair connected in their hometown in Argentina. Though they were still incredibly young, the couple were already aware of their feelings for each other by the time they were 9 years of age. Those who knew Leo recalled that he would write letters to Antonela as a child, stating that one day she would be his girlfriend.
The incredibly talented Lionel had to move to Spain when he was 13 to play in the younger F.C. version of Barcelona. He and Antonela did not reconnect until years later, when her best friend Ursula Notz died in a tragic car accident. Leo flew back to his native country to console the model after this incident.
As a tribute to her best friend, Antonela wrote in Spanish on Instagram: "Absences are felt in everyday life, on birthdays, on anniversaries, at parties. Absences are disturbing. When we understand that we will no longer listen to that voice that accompanied us, absences transform, being able to turn pain into action, but knowing that we will never be the same as before. Absences guide us. Absences hurt, but they also relaunch us."
It wasn't until Leo had turned 21 in 2009 that their relationship was brought into the public. That same year, Leo appeared on the television program Hat Trick Barça for an interview. "Do you have a girlfriend?" they asked Leo Messi. To which the athlete responded, "Yes, I have a girlfriend. She is in Argentina. The truth is that I am well, and I am relaxed." He later revealed that Antonela was pursuing dentistry but moved to Leo's house in Castelldefels, Barcelona instead.
Leo and Antonela Start a Family
In 2012, the pair announced that they were expecting their first child and gave birth to Thiago Messi-Roccuzzo later that year. They had their second son in 2015, Mateo Messi-Roccuzzo, and their third, Ciro Messi-Roccuzzo, in 2018. When Leo was asked about his experiences of being a father, he said: “You grow, and you learn. You gather experience in all aspects of life, on and off the field. But, as a human being, having three children changed my perspective on life, my way of thinking, and it also helped me grow.”
The athlete added, “Even though there are few moments of respite at home with three kids, we try to enjoy every second with them, whether it is watching the TV, playing or whatever. We like to stay at home and enjoy these moments.”
Leo and Antonela eventually got married in 2017 in their hometown of Rosario, Argentina. The event was dubbed the "Wedding of the Century" by multiple news outlets, and the attendees included some of Leo's teammates like Gerard Piqué and his ex Shakira.
Antonela still regularly posts on Instagram to keep her 25.8 million followers updated on her beautiful family. Leo’s wife and his children even watched him compete and win against France in the 2022 World Cup Championship game this December. Today, Leo boasts a total net worth of $600 million, becoming the highest-paid athlete on the planet.
Leo reflected on his last World Cup and the impact his family had on it. "From the beginning to the final whistle, I was thinking about my family,” he told The Sun. "My children especially, as they are growing older and understand more. We have had families before at World Cups – Thiago has been there but wasn’t aware what it meant. I now see how they suffer and enjoy it. It’s something spectacular. They are excited as all Argentinians – it’s amazing to share this with them.”
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