Childhood companionsIn this never-before-seen snapshot, which was taken when the Barcelona star was just ten years old, Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Rocuzzo smile for the camera during a day at the beach.
The heartwarming photo, which was discovered by the Argentine newspaper La Capital, shows the football player and the gorgeous mother of their three sons playing together in the Punta Mogotes vacation resort on the Atlantic Ocean over two decades before they were married.
Messi was participating in a young football competition in Balcarce, a nearby city.
Lionel Messi poses with wife-to-be Antonela Rocuzzo on a beach in Argentina back in 1998
Three children now live with Messi and Antonela: Ciro, one, Mateo, three, and Thiago, six.
About to turn ten years old and already close friends with the football player, Antonela had come to the area with her parents to visit her cousin, Messi’s teammate Lucas Scaglia.
The image, which was taken in January 1998, features the two with additional kids, including Lucas and Matias Pecce, another teammate.
On a day off from the boys’ football competition, Antonela’s parents went with the kids to Punta Mogotes, while Messi’s parents, Jorge and Celia, chose to stay in their hometown of Rosario, eight hours away by car.
On Monday, it remained unclear if the football player—who, in a recent interview, the Pope emphasized was “very good” but not God—had ever seen the image.
Thanks to the efforts of a La Capital journalist who located and published it, it is currently going viral.
The publication stated that it took three years to find it after multiple editorial staff members started looking for a picture of Messi in Mar del Plata, a well-known resort that the majority of Argentinians have visited at some point in their youth.
Messi in action for Barcelona during their win against Real Sociedad on Saturday evening
The Argentine celebrity shared a picture of themselves on his official Instagram account, posing alongside Antonela.
Lionel Messi spends intimate moments with his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo.
The center of Mar del Plata, which is 20 minutes away by car, comes alive in January during the height of Argentina’s summer with travelers from all over the nation, including the capital Buenos Aires.
In January 1998, Messi came to play for Newell’s Old Boys, one of Rosario’s two most well-known teams.
According to local accounts, that year’s El Mundialito tournament, which included young players from Argentine teams like Boca Juniors, River Plate, and Velez Sarsfield, was won by his minor team.
The following year, Messi was forced to watch from the sidelines as his team was eliminated in the semi-finals due to a fractured arm, which prohibited him from participating in the same competition.
Journalist Bruno Verdenelli of La Capital said that after a protracted search for pictures of the football player at Mar del Plata, he received the picture from Messi’s former teammate Matias Pecce.
Messi, Antonela and their three boys pose for a photo during Ciro’s first birthday party
He told on his Twitter page how he uncovered the picture after conversations with Pecce and an acquaintance called Francisco Luduena.
Explaining he had discovered the Barcelona star had played against Luduena and stayed at his family home along with Pecce during the 1998 tournament, he said: ‘The two of them told me everything.
‘I couldn’t believe I finally had the whole story. I needed the photo. Francisco couldn’t find anything and I was really gutted. That’s when Matias remembered he had one that was better than I thought and sent it to me immediately.
‘The photo had a bonus. Next to Messi was Antonela.’
The footballer, regarded by many as the best player of all time, married Antonela in a glitzy wedding in Rosario on June 30, 2017.
The pair have been together since they were young and got married in Rosario in June, 2017
They have three children – Thiago, six, Mateo, three, and Ciro, one.
Antonela posted an adorable family photo on her Instagram the weekend before last alongside a message which said: ‘Good weekend to everyone. Here with them, as always.’
Mr Luduena spoke over the weekend of the days Messi and Matias Pecce stayed at his family home during the 1998 football tournament.
He said: ‘Matias wouldn’t eat anything that wasn’t sausages with rice. Messi ate everything.
‘The way he played back then was amazing. Everyone was talking about him. You could tell he was different when he got hold of the ball. I went to see every game because my mum had to take him to the stadium. No-one could get the ball off him.’