Lionel Messi’s name has been on everyone’s lips for the past year. Since winning the World Cup last year and revolutionizing Miami by moving to play for Inter, the Argentine player is undoubtedly a star.

Leo Messi has nearly 800 career goals, 41 trophies, and seven Ballon d’Or. In addition, his pink Inter jersey outsold any sports jersey in history in its first 24 hours, generating $600 million. He is, undoubtedly, the king of fútbol.

But as they say, what’s a king without his queen? And Messi undoubtedly has a queen who has stuck beside him since day one — before the sport’s notoriety and success. The soccer giant met his future wife, Antonela Roccuzzo, when they were just children living in their hometown of Rosario, Argentina. Described by some as love at first sight, the two would go on to have a love story for the books.

Messi and Roccuzzo met when they were nine years old

As reported by Hola!, the pair met when they were nine years old in their hometown Rosario. Messi became good friends with Antonela’s cousin Lucas Scaglia at a soccer club, who invited him on a summer vacation with his family. That’s when the two saw each other for the very first time.

Meanwhile, TikTok account @shannonhillnews explains that Antonela first saw her future husband playing video games. She asked him if he needed anything, but he reportedly didn’t say anything because he was too shy.

Leo Messi said in a 2019 interview, “With Antonela it was love at first sight.” As children, the soccer star also allegedly wrote a note to Antonela, which said: “One day, we will get engaged.”

Soon after, Messi left Argentina to follow his dreams

While Leo and Antonela grew up playing in the streets of Rosario like any other neighborhood kid, things soon changed. Messi had big dreams to chase, and moved to Barcelona with his family at 13 years old. Once relocated, he played for FC Barcelona’s under-14 team.

Meanwhile, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency at 11 years old, making getting signed as a child even more important. That way, the club he signed with could pay for his treatment. Messi said in 2010 that Barcelona was “the only club in the world that offered” to pay for his medicine. He continued, “It wasn’t difficult for me to move to Barcelona because I knew I had to. I needed money for my medicine to help me grow… So as soon as [Barcelona offered to pay], I knew I had to go.”

That being said, he was of course separated from Antonela, who stayed in Rosario studying dentistry.

A tragic event changed the course of their lives

In 2005, Messi found out Antonela’s best friend, Ursula Notz, died in a car accident. He knew Roccuzzo was devastated — and rushed back to Argentina to stay by her side and help.

Antonela was focused on her studies in her hometown, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in humanities and social sciences from the National University of Rosario and in the midst of obtaining a graduate degree in dentistry. Still, there was no doubt she and Messi had reconnected — and this time, it was for good.

They finally made plans for the future, and Roccuzzo decided to move to Spain to be closer to Messi. Meanwhile, per US Weekly, they officially debuted their romance in 2009. By 2010, they were engaged.

Their love story included a gorgeous wedding… and adorable kids

The couple had their first child, Thiago, on November 2, 2012, followed by second son Mateo, who was born on September 11, 2015.

Leo Messi and Antonela Roccuzzo were married on June 30, 2017, choosing their hometown Rosario, Argentina to celebrate all the festivities. While stars like Gerard Pique and Neymar attended, having the wedding in Rosario also showed their trademark humility.

His former coach Enrique Domínguez even 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.”

By March 11, 2018, they welcomed their third son Ciro to the world.

Today, Leo Messi is undoubtedly feeling sky-high from his achievements — but he finds true success in his family. He told FC Barcelona, “As a human being, having three children changed my perspective on life, my way of thinking and it also helped me grow.” About wife Antonela, he told the soccer club she is “high[ly] intelligent,” “always in a good mood,” and he really admires her.

Unbelievably enough, their family life is really relatable, too. Messi said they usually watch cartoons with the kids, always eat breakfast together, and try to avoid being on the phone — preferring quality time.

Fast forward to the World Cup win, wife Antonela couldn’t help but celebrate her husband’s achievement. She wrote on Instagram, “We’re so proud of you… Thank you for showing us… we have to fight until the end… We know how much you suffered all these years, how much you wanted to achieve this.”