Paula Bustamante –
Celebrity magazines have dubbed brunette mother-of-two Antonella Roccuzzo “the first lady of football.”
Her man, Lionel Messi, is widely considered the best player on the planet. Showbiz and football stars attended their wedding on Friday in the couple’s hometown of Rosario, Argentina.
But friends here in their home city in northern Argentina insist the two are humble folk who have never forgotten where they come from.
Seen as a man of few words, the millionaire Barcelona striker lets his feet do the talking — and his bride in public says even less.
Her family members have also avoided talking to the crowds of reporters who have invaded the city ahead of the wedding.
Roccuzzo’s father Jose is the owner of a chain of local supermarkets, Unico. He was formerly president of a regional supermarket owners’ association. Apart from that, he is said to be a keen fan of Newell’s Old Boys — Messi’s boyhood club in Rosario.
Roccuzzo grew up in the upper middle-class Bella Vista district and went to a private school, says one friend of the family who asked not to be named. Diego Vallejos, a childhood friend and neighbour of the Messis, said the couple met aged nine and Messi “fell in love forever at first sight” with Roccuzzo.
“We will always remember Antonella as being around this neighbourhood and as being Messi’s girl,” said another friend, Franco Lentini, who grew up in the same modest neighbourhood as the player.
“They are the love of each other’s lives,” said Vallejos.
Messi moved to Spain aged 13 to join FC Barcelona, but he kept telephoning Roccuzzo and writing her letters.
Sources close to Roccuzzo’s family say she started courses in communications and odontology but did not finish them.
Instead she moved to Spain to join Messi. She opened a luxury shoe shop there this year along with her friend Sofia Balbi — wife of Messi’s Barcelona strike partner, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez.
World media started to widely identify Roccuzzo as Messi’s girlfriend shortly before he played in the 2010 World Cup.
She gave birth to their children, Thiago, in 2012 and Mateo in 2015.
At Friday’s wedding Roccuzzo wore a dress by Spanish designer Rosa Clara. She has been photographed in dresses by the designer at various footballing award ceremonies and functions.
The designer has also dressed stars such as actresses Eva Longoria and Sofia Vergara as well as Spain’s Queen Letizia. — AFP