Lionel Messi & Antonela Roccuzzo's Untold Love Story


| LAST UPDATE 01/02/2023

By Kenzie Rose

Lionel Messi is a name that everyone knows. He is one of the greatest athletes in the world. But off the field, he's also a winner. Here's a look back at how his childhood sweetheart won him over decades later…

The King & Queen of Soccer

Messi is one of the greatest soccer players to date. He has won the Ballon d'Or eight times, the European Golden Shoe six times, and the World Soccer Player of the Year three times, just to name a few.

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Harold Cunningham - UEFA/Contributor via Getty Images

Except everyone already knows how great he is at soccer. What people don't know is the story behind how he and his wife, Antonela Roccuzzo, met and fell in love. They went from childhood friends to being on opposite sides of the world before finding their way back to each other. This is their incredible story.

Humble Roots

Lionel Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo were both born in Rosario, Argentina. Rosario is one of the largest cities in the South American country, with an estimated population of around 1.7 million. What are the odds that these two met with all those people?

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

Rosario is filled with many cultural attractions, like Juan B. Castagnino Fine Arts Museum and the Museo Histórico Provincial. It's located right on the Paraná River and is 186 miles from the capital city of Buenos Aires. However, nowadays, it is more famously known as the birthplace of, well, Messi.

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The Old Boys

When Messi, nicknamed "Leo," was only five years old, he began playing soccer. He was a natural talent, and nothing could keep him from kicking the ball. His dad coached the first team that he ever played for! The young Argentinian switched to play for Newell's Old Boys a year later.

Messi Ronaldinho Young CareerMessi Ronaldinho Young Career
LLUIS GENE/Staff via Getty Images

Leo played for the Rosario team for 6 years and scored close to 500 goals during that period. While playing for Newell's Old Boys, Messi met Lucas Scaglia, another young soccer player. At the time, it was just his teammate. Little did a young Messi know that his friend would change his life forever.

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When They First Met

Messi and Scaglia spent more and more time together on and off the field. Until one day, everything changed: Scaglia's cousin, Antonela Roccuzzo, was over at his house. While he didn't know it at the time, that was the first time that Lionel Messi laid eyes on his future wife.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

According to the Manchester Evening News, this meeting happened when the future couple was only five years old. However, Hola! stated that this happened when they were nine years old while the boys played video games together. Apparently, a shy Antonela was too afraid to say hi to Leo. Little did she know what her future would hold. 

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A Star on the Rise

When Messi was just 12 years old, he began gaining attention for his soccer skills. Sadly, the Argentinian was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency and had to figure out a way to treat it if he was going to have a shot at going pro one day.

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Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Contributor via Getty Images

An arrangement was made that would ensure Messi got the treatment that he needed, but there was a sacrifice that came along with it. The young soccer player would have to move across the world to Barcelona, Spain. So, he packed his bags, and off he went to follow his lifelong dreams of making it big.

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Meanwhile in Argentina...

Antonela continued to live her life as a young teenager in Argentina when Messi went off to Europe. According to Hola!, the young Argentinian practiced gymnastics and continued her studies. Life went on as usual, even if she was missing her friend. 

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

While his home may have been physically far from Messi, it was never far from his heart. He always kept Rosario close to him, even maintaining his distinct Rosario accent and remaining in touch with those he left behind. Big things were on the horizon for the Argentinian playing in Spain.

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Going Pro

Once he completed his growth hormone treatments at 14, Messi began playing - and the world was not ready for what was about to happen next. He instantly earned his GOAT status, starting his first season on the youth team with 36 goals in only 30 games. Yes, really.

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Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Contributor via Getty Images

But on the day of Messi's 18th birthday, he got the most incredible birthday gift. He was signed on to play for the first team. While he had already made waves on the youth teams and the C and B teams, he was officially a Barcelona player now. It was time to play some ball.

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Big Plans

Meanwhile, all the way on the other side of the world, in the southern hemisphere, Antonela was still living in Argentina. She was studying at the National University of Rosario, where she eventually earned a bachelor's degree in humanities and social sciences.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

She had big plans. After completing her bachelor's degree, the young girl had aspirations to become a dentist. However, life sometimes gets in the way of things. Before Antonela could fulfill her big dreams, something else happened that forever altered her journey.

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When Tragedy Strikes

In 2005, Antonela's best friend, Ursula Notz, was killed in a tragic car accident. According to The Nation, a young man had been driving intoxicated before crashing his car, carrying several passengers. "Absences are felt in everyday life, on birthdays, on anniversaries, at parties. Absences are disturbing," Roccuzzo reflected on the loss.

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@leomessi via Instagram

At the time, Messi was at the start of his professional career. But none of that mattered. According to reports, he put all that aside to be there for his childhood friend. Not only did he fly back to his home turf, but the two reunited and rekindled their friendship through this dark time.

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A Secret Romance

Sure enough, by 2008, Antonela and Leo officially began dating, according to Yahoo! Sports. However, they did so in secret. Leo was becoming one of the best soccer players in the entire world, and there was constant attention on him. He needed one aspect of his life to remain private - at least for now.

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@leomessi via Instagram

So, they kept things under wraps. Antonela eventually dropped out of her studies to become a dentist so that she could move closer to her love in Spain. She packed up her old life and moved in with Messi in his home in Castelldefels, Barcelona. But that was just the beginning.

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Going Public

In 2009 the couple finally went public with their relationship. According to Sport, the Barça player spilled the tea about his relationship on a television program called Hat Trick Barça. The host of the show asked Messi a very simple question: do you have a girlfriend?

Leo Messi Antonela Roccuzzo ChildhoodLeo Messi Antonela Roccuzzo Childhood
@leomessi via Instagram

"Yes, I have a girlfriend. She is in Argentina," he finally revealed. "The truth is that I am well, and I am relaxed." And nothing would ever be the same again. The couple slowly began to make public debuts together - like a trip to Cancun, where they were snapped hanging on the beach. The biggest football star was officially off the market.

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The Big Question

Shortly after, the Rosario sweethearts took a big step together. Sometime in 2010, the boy from Argentina got down on one knee and proposed to his childhood crush. Leo and Antonela were officially engaged. But it was going to take some time before they said, "I do," to each other.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

2010 was a big year for Messi. In addition to proposing to his longtime girlfriend, Antonela, he played in the 2010 World Cup, which took place in South Africa. Former player Diego Maradona managed the Argentinian international team. Despite being potential title contenders, the team was eliminated in the quarter-finals.

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Becoming a Family

Rumors had already been circulating that Antonela was pregnant with the couple's first child - and then Leo got involved. During an international match between Argentina and Ecuador, he took the ball under his shirt, mimicking a pregnant belly to the stadium. And fans went wild!

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

Sure enough, the couple welcomed their first child, Thiago, on November 2, 2012. Messi shared on Facebook, "Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift! Thanks to my family for the support! A hug to everyone." Messi was now taking on his biggest challenge yet - fatherhood.

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Baby #2 on the Way

A few years later, Antonela and Leo had another big announcement for the world. They were expecting their second baby! The soccer star shared the news on his Instagram page with a close-up photo of their first son, Thiago, kissing Antonela's baby bump.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

Another player was being added to the team. Leo captioned the photo with a sweet message, "We're eagerly waiting for you!!! Thiagui, mama and papa love you!" Their second child, Mateo, was born on September 11, 2015. To celebrate his son's arrival, Messi had Mateo's name and birthdate embroidered on his Adidas shoes.

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Tying the Knot

Fast forward to June 20, 2017, and their happiness reached new heights. Messi and Roccuzzo finally tied the knot. The entire world would have been happy to host their wedding. However, the couple decided that they were going to go back to their roots. Sure enough, they had the ceremony and reception in their hometown of Rosario.

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FotonoticiasMDB/Contributor via Getty Images

Enrique Domínguez, who was Messi's coach when he played for Newell's Old Boys so many years ago, told CNN, "That he chose his city, to choose Rosario to come to marry, to bring his companions of Barcelona and other guests to discover the city that saw him grow… it's just who Leo is."

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Celebration of the Century

Their wedding was called by multiple media outlets "The wedding of the century." And we can see why. There were over 250 guests invited, and over 350 security forces were hired to watch over the guests, according to CNN. Additionally, the news outlet reported that about 150 journalists were attending the grand event. 

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Gabriel Rossi/Staff via Getty Images

The biggest names in soccer flew in from all over the world to celebrate Antonela and Leo. Some guests included Neymar, Luis Suárez, and Gerard Piqué with his then-partner Shakira. Antonela wore a gown designed by Spanish designer Rosa Clará, while Leo donned a Dolce & Gabbana suit. It was, in the truest sense, a celebration of love.

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The Third Messi

At home, the Messi clan continued to expand. Antonela and Leo were pregnant with their third child. His team announced that Messi would have to miss a match against Malaga for "personal reasons," which is one good reason to miss a game. And his third son, Ciro, was brought into the world on Saturday, March 10, 2018.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

Messi shared an update on his Instagram page, "Welcome Ciro! Thank God everything went perfect. Mom and he are very well. We are super happy!!!!!" Accompanying the text was a black and white photograph of baby Ciro holding a finger, likely belonging to Leo or Antonela. Their family was now complete.

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Behind Closed Doors

Today, they are now one big, happy family. Antonela and Leo regularly post photos of their beautiful clan, giving fans a glimpse into their lives. Both parents have gotten tattoos dedicated to each of their children. Messi has all his children's birthdates inked onto his left leg, while Antonela has their names on her hands.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

In an interview with FC Barcelona, Messi said, "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."

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A Different View

Being a pro soccer player is one thing. But being a dad is a whole other league. However, parenting seems to come naturally to the Argentinian forward. Between his busy schedule, many commitments, and being a father to three boys, it must be hard to juggle everything. Somehow Leo manages to do it all.

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@leomessi via Instagram

When speaking with FC Barcelona about being a dad, Messi explained, "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."

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Model, Momma & More

While she may not be kicking a ball up and down the field, like her husband, Antonela has a career of her own. In 2016, she signed a modeling contract with designer Ricky Sarkany. She also opened a shoe store in Barcelona with her friend, Sofia Balbi. Balbi is the wife of Messi's now-former teammate and friend, Luis Suárez.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

Antonela has a strong Instagram following, with over 30 million followers. She has partnered with brands like Stella McCartney, Alo Yoga, and Adidas. Mrs. Messi definitely has proven that she can do it all. From being a mom to a business owner to a supportive wife, nothing can get in her way.

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#1 Fan

For fans, Messi was always destined for greatness. It is often debated whether he is among the greatest players of all time. He continues to break records and set even higher and better ones. Throughout his career, he constantly proved time and time again how great of a player he is.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

But through every corner kick, every yellow card, and every game-winning goal, Antonela has been cheering him on. She can always be found in the stands with their kids as they watch Dad show us how it's done. Though it hasn't always been smooth sailing...

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No Penalties Here

Messi has received 90 yellow cards in his career. However, all of them were on the field because there were no penalties with Antonela. If anything, he scored big with her, and he knows it. During an interview with Marca, they asked Messi what he admired most about his wife.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

Leo replied, "The truth is that [I admire] everything. She has many good qualities: how she gets by on a daily basis; her personality; she is always in a good mood; and she always faces up to problems in an admirable way. She is a very intelligent person who is great in all aspects of life."

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Instagram Official

But that's not the only place we'll catch Messi in his feelings. With over 400 million followers, both he and his wife frequently post about how much they love each other and their family. From date nights with just the two of 'em to family snaps on vacations or Christmastime, they show just how happy they are as a unit.

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@leomessi via Instagram

Through the years, Antonela and Leo have really done it all together. From meeting as kids to having kids of their own, their journey has been filled with surprises. Now, they have much to celebrate and enjoy. However, sometimes life has unexpected turns, and they need to lean on each other.

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A Tearful Goodbye

Lionel Messi spent most of his life playing for Barcelona. He spent over two decades with the team, from their youth clubs to becoming captain in 2018. However, the famed football club fell upon hard times. Despite agreeing to cut his paycheck by 50%, there was no way that the team he had grown up in could keep the Argentinian.

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Eric Alonso/Stringer via Getty Images

When Messi announced his departure from FC Barcelona, Antonela and the boys were there to support him. He could not keep the tears from streaming down his face as he told the press and fans the news - but Antonela was there by his side, tissue in hand. It was a hard day, and thankfully Messi had his support system to get him through it.

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A New Home

Shortly after announcing his departure from FC Barcelona, Messi signed a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain. After spending so much time in Spain, it was time to pack up their things and head to Kylian Mbappé's turf. Messi spoke with Marca about how the family, specifically his sons, were adjusting to life in Paris. 

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

"They already go to school, and they will surely learn French very quickly because when it comes to learning, children fly. All this has given us great peace of mind, both to Antonela and to me. We have seen that very quickly they were very well and adapted to the new city and country," Leo shared.

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Messi's Hulk

Other members of the Messi family sometimes get left out of the discussion. Who could they be? None other than their adorable pets. Messi adopted Señor Hulk in 2016, posting a photo of him on his Instagram. Hulk is a Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as a French Mastiff. They are massive dogs that can grow to 110 pounds!

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@leomessi via Instagram

Then, in 2020, Antonela posted on Instagram announcing a new addition to the family: a small dog called Abu. She posted snaps of her boys with the latest Messi addition. Since adopting Abu, Antonela has included him in many fashion photo shoots. He really does make the perfect accessory, huh?

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Returning to the World Stage

Messi's career has been filled with many wins that other athletes can never even dream of obtaining. Yet there was always something missing from his list of accomplishments: a World Cup title. Over the years, the Argentinian team has been so close yet has never been able to cinch the win.

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Richard Sellers / Contributor via Getty Images

During the 2010 World Cup in Brazil, Argentina was in the finals against Germany. However, they never scored, and Germany won the World Cup with just one goal. In the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Argentina was eliminated after the first round. It seemed the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was Messi's final chance to nab a title.

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Coming for Qatar

Before the World Cup kicked off, Antonela posted a snap on Instagram with her three boys wearing Argentinian jerseys. "Here we come Qatar!" The family made their way to the World Cup stage as the entire world watched. Argentina defeated team after team, inching closer to the finals than they had ever been in years.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

As Argentina continued to progress through each round of the 2022 World Cup, Messi's family was there to support him. Antonela, Thiago, Mateo, and Ciro were all in the stands, sporting matching #10 jerseys. Then, after winning against Croatia, Argentina made it to the finals. They were going to play for the title. Vamos Argentina!

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World Cup Winners

Argentina was going up against France in the 2022 World Cup Final. Messi scored two goals out of the three scored. The game went into penalties, and the entire world was on the edge of their seats as they waited to see who would come out victorious. Then, after scoring four goals against France, Argentina won the World Cup.

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@antonelaroccuzzo via Instagram

Antonela came onto the field pitch with her three boys to celebrate their dad's big win. Everyone was hugging, kissing, and celebrating together. Messi took photos with his teammates and with his family. He also took the time to photograph Antonela with the solid gold trophy. This was a memory they will all have forever.

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The Real Winner

Messi has countless titles, trophies, and records to his name. He is one of the best soccer players ever to exist. Now he has one more title to add to his list of accomplishments: He is a World Cup winner. But it seems Messi was always a winner thanks to Antonela.

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Jean Catuffe / Contributor via Getty Images

"From the beginning to the final whistle, I was thinking about my family," he recalled of his time in Qatar. He is surrounded by people who love him and support him. Despite the years apart, Antonela and Leo's love for each other has been stronger than all else. And we can't wait to see what comes next. Vamos!

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