Lionel Messi has married his childhood sweetheart Antonela Roccuzzo in his hometown in Argentina in what has been called the “wedding of the century”.
A civil ceremony for the 30-year-old Argentine soccer star and Antonela Roccuzzo, 29, was held at a luxury hotel in the city of Rosario.
Soccer stars and celebrities were among the 260 guests, with hundreds of police deployed for the event.
Lionel Messi, the Argentina and Barcelona forward, met Antonela Roccuzzo as a child before he moved to Spain aged just 13.
Among the guests at June 30 wedding were Lionel Messi’s Barcelona teammates Luis Suárez, Neymar, Gerard Piqué and his wife, 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, organizers said.
Lionel Messi met Antonela Roccuzzo when he was just five years old. She is the cousin of his best friend, Lucas Scaglia, who also became a professional soccer player.
Lionel 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.
Lionel Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo, who now live in Barcelona, have two sons together.
The wedding was held at Rosario’s City Center hotel complex, which has an adjoining casino.
Antonela Roccuzzo 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.
Clarín reported that Lionel Messi did not invite any of his recent coaches, including Pep Guardiola, who is now at Manchester City.
Argentina’s other big soccer legend, Diego Maradona, was also omitted from the list, according to the local press.
The port city of Rosario sits on the banks of the Paraná, about 200 miles north-west of Buenos Aires in the center of Argentina.
Another famous Argentine to have spent his early years here is Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Lionel 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, Lionel Messi has won a record-breaking five FIFA Ballon d’Or awards.