He declared his love. It is not very clear when it was. What is known is that Lionel Messi was just a boy who dreamed of playing football someday. Moreover, the closest he had been to Barcelona had been when a friend of the neighborhood lent him the Blaugrana shirt that his father kept so fondly. That day, or rather those minutes, Leo pushed the ball that accompanied him all the time from his left. He sat at the desk in his room, took a sheet of paper and a pen and began to write: "Antonela." (Yes, with only one).
Among so many words of love, worthy of a young preteen, sketched a clairvoyance that would mark that relationship forever: "One day we will be engaged."
A love story difficult to reconstruct by the hermetism of its protagonists. A love story worthy of a movie.
The first time they met was when he was nine and she was eight. It happened in the house of Lucas Scaglia, cousin of Antonela and companion of soccer of Leo. According to the documentary film 'Messi', the Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia, the Flea was paralyzed with the eyes of that young woman. "Who is it?" He began to stammer. "Antonella, my cousin," his friend replied.
For Leo, it was the toughest gambeta. The impossible goal. The most complicated final. She became his first love. Also in his first defeat. Antonela did not want to know anything about being "girlfriend." Their first relationship was friendship. Yes, friends from the neighborhood. Friends of Rosario. They were just kids. But one day life separated them. It was in 2000, when Jorge Messi - father of the soccer player - decided to travel with all his family to Barcelona, with the intention that his son would wear the colors culé. "Antonela and Leo stopped seeing each other for a while when he was just a kid who wanted to get their attention and she was a pretty girl who did not let himself be cajoled," says journalist Guillem Balagué in 'Messi', the only authorized biography of the best player of the world.
In those years, there were already some instant messaging programs, like Messenger and ICQ, although they were not of simple access. Without a fluid communication, the relationship almost dissipated. They met again a few times when Leo was visiting Rosario, but not much else. A tragedy re-formed a solid friendship.
It was in 2005, when a friend of hers died at the exit of a bowling alley when being run over by a boy who drove drunk. "Antonela was 17 years old and had a very bad time, she spent several days without going to school. Just coincided with one of Leo's trips to his house and, as soon as he found out, he ran to be at his side," revealed another of the friends in dialogue with a magazine.
Messi had already made debut in the First of Barcelona. Antonela was engaged to another boy. It was a sincere friendship, though there was something that had never been quenched. When she cut off her three-year relationship, the dialogue with Leo began to be more fluid. And suddenly, love again bloomed. It was authentic, it was reciprocal, but it was also in the distance. "Today he is saying: 'At least he did not leave me for anyone, he left me for Messi!'," Another anonymous source said in the same publication.
Just on July 20, 2007, in the celebration of the day of the friend, Antonela bleached the engagement to his inner circle. "We met in Roldán to celebrate Friend's Day, as we always do, and she took out the Blackberry that Lio had given her. She did not say much more but all the connoisseurs who have come out again," one of her friends recorded.
Publicly, the announcement of the relationship did in the first months of 2009. It was Leo himself who spoke about his relationship with the TV show Hat Trick Barça, TV Catalunya. Of course: he did not name her.
The relationship remained at a distance for almost three years, in which she frequently traveled to Barcelona. Shortly before the 2010 World Cup, La Negra - as her friends call it - traveled with her two sisters to visit Leo at her home in Castelldefels. "They came back fascinated by how well he treats her and by how much love they see," her friends confided at the time.
It was after that World Cup that she went to live in Catalonia with Leo. He had already left the Odontology career due to lack of vocation. The Communication Department left her to be with her love. What he never stopped doing was studying English, one of his great passions. Even when he was in Rosario, he even taught language classes. Of course: Antonela does not like football. Messi made it clear in one of the few interviews in which he spoke about her: "He gets bored with football. He does not pay attention to me when I go home and say, 'I scored two goals or I got a hat-trick.' He is not interested, " said Leo to a sport show.
Publicly, they barely spoke together for a few seconds in the spot of Ring to the Finger, the program that led Leo Nico's friend Nico Vazquez in El Trece. There, they were subjected to an amusing game in which they asked crossed questions. A kind of competition. She could not answer in what year he debuted. He could not say precisely how much Thiago weighed at birth.
Thiago, the couple's first child, was born on November 2, 2012. Mateo, the second heir, arrived in the world on September 11, 2015.
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