Long-lasting relationships are something of a rarity in the world of celebrity, but pop icon Shakira bucks the trend. The Colombian songstress and her partner, international soccer star Gerard Piqué, have been together for the best part of a decade at this point, and (despite some tabloid reports to the contrary) they’re still going strong. The couple was all smiles at the 2019 US Open, but it was during the build up to another huge sporting event that their love story began.
Shakira recorded the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and Piqué was one of a group of players asked to take part in the music video. « I wasn’t a soccer fan so I didn’t know who he was, » she told 60 Minutes. « But when I saw the video, I was like, ‘Hmm. That one’s kind of cute.’ And then someone decided to introduce us. » They had their first son, Milan, in 2013, and welcomed another boy, Sasha, in 2015. Both are already starting to take after their dad, but what do we know about Piqué himself?
The 6’4” defender is a superstar in his home country, and he’s known all across the soccer-loving world as one of the greatest players of his time, but his journey to the pinnacle of the game wasn’t exactly smooth. This is the untold truth of the often controversial but never boring Gerard Piqué.
Gerard Pique isn’t really Shakira’s husband
Shakira referred to Gerard Piqué as her « husband » in a January 2020 Instagram video, but the two aren’t actually married. When she sat down with 60 Minutes to promote her Super Bowl halftime show, the « Hips Don’t Lie » singer told correspondent Bill Whitaker that she has zero interest in becoming Mrs. Gerard Piqué. « To tell you the truth, marriage scares the s**t out of me, » she said. « I don’t want him to see me as the wife. I’d rather him see me as … his lover, his girlfriend. It’s like a little forbidden fruit, you know? » Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Shakira has taken this stance with a partner.
Before meeting Piqué, the former Voice judge was involved with Argentine entrepreneur Antonio de la Rua, son of the country’s former president. They started dating in 2000 and were together for over a decade, but she didn’t feel the need to make it official. Speaking to USA Today in 2009, Shakira described herself as being « semi-married » to Rua: « We function as a married couple. We don’t need papers for that. »
The songstress is taking a similar approach to her relationship with Piqué, partly because she wants to « keep him on his toes » as the years tick by. « I want him to think that anything’s possible depending on behavior, » she told Whitaker.
Shakira’s ‘husband’ is way younger than her
The fact that Shakira and Gerard Piqué share the same birthday (February 2nd) is pretty romantic, sure, but it becomes a little less cute when you discover that the sports star is a full decade younger than she is. Speaking to The Scottish Sun, the singer admitted that she had her reservations to begin with. « He was only 23 when I met him, » Shakira confirmed. « I was concerned about the age gap as I was 33. » Her concerns soon melted away, however, and before long, she was writing a song about falling for her toy boy — the aptly titled « 23 ».
« ’23’ is a very special song, » Shakira told the media outlet in 2014, adding, « It took me many years to get to where I am in my life now. I wasn’t fulfilled or satisfied and I think Gerard was the missing link. » A fair few of Shakira’s songs have since been inspired by her relationship with Piqué. She’s confirmed that « The One Thing » is about the soccer star being her destiny, and Shakira actually references their age gap in the song « Me Enamoré. » « He is still a child / But what am I going to do? » the Colombian sings in her native tongue. « Look, what a beautiful thing / What a round little mouth / I like that little beard. »
Gerard Pique restored Shakira’s faith in God
Shakira went to a Catholic school and was brought up to believe in God. She released her first two records when she was still in high school, despite the fact that her music teacher refused to let her join the school choir because she sounded « like a goat, » Shakira recalled in 2014. « It sounds comic now, but back then it was very traumatizing, » she said (via Yahoo!). « From the age of 10 I had chosen a career, I knew a wanted to be a singer, and this guy wouldn’t let me in the school choir. » Maybe he had a point — Shakira’s first two albums bombed.
She took a break to concentrate on finishing school and would, of course, go on to become a superstar after graduating, but Shakira struggled with her faith in those early days. It wasn’t the turnaround in her musical fortunes that restored it, either. « I think, if you can prove the existence of God, it can only be proven through love, » the vocalist told Elle. « … I was always very religious, and for a few years, maybe because — it sounds so corny — I was not feeling the love like it was supposed to be, I started to think that there was no God. And suddenly I meet Gerard and the sun comes out. »
Piqué keeps his own religious views to himself, though he’s also thought to be Catholic.
Shakira’s ‘husband’ played the Pirate King
It’s not unusual for soccer stars to have side gigs (Brazilian striker Neymar, for example, has 35 endorsement deals in total), but not many of them go into acting. Shakira’s husband-but-not-husband took the plunge in 2012 when he voiced the Pirate King in the Catalan-language version of The Pirates! Band of Misfits. The stop-motion film wowed the critics (it was Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 86 percent) and the Academy, who nominated it for best animated feature. But did working on it give Piqué the acting bug? « No, not really, » the former World Cup athlete said when a FourFourTwo reader asked about a potential future in acting. « That was good fun, though. Actually, maybe. We’ll see what happens. »
So, what did happen? Piqué went on to play the character Cesc Banner in three episodes of Spanish drama La Riera, and he’s also done some reality TV — the Barcelona defender featured in MTV’s docuseries Empuje, which follows the day-to-day lives of celebrity athletes. His most recent acting credit, as of this writing, is the 2017 music video for Shakira’s « Me Enamoré. » Interestingly, Piqué’s Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta voiced a character in the Spanish-language version of The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
« Who’s best? » Piqué asked FourFourTwo‘s Andrew Murray, before answering himself. « What kind of a question is that?! Mine, for f**k’s sake, come on! Always back yourself. »
Gerard Pique is Barcelona royalty
Gerard Piqué is practically royalty in his home city of Barcelona, where soccer is less a sport and more a way of life. His grandfather was once a director at the city’s world-famous soccer club, and he made sure that his grandson was signed up as a soci (an official club member) on the day he came into the world. Piqué was being touted as a future Barcelona player as soon as he could kick a ball, and even though that eventually came true, the strapping defender had to go the long way about it.
He played for Barcelona’s academy as a boy, but Piqué knew that he would have to look elsewhere for senior action after an embarrassing encounter with Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, who was in charge of Barcelona at the time. According to The Guardian, Piqué met van Gaal at a lunch organized by his grandfather. « This is my grandson, a center-back for Barcelona’s youth team, » he told van Gaal. The notoriously stern manager looked Piqué up and down, and then (much to the then-14-year-old’s surprise) pushed him over. « You’re too weak to be a Barcelona defender, » he told Piqué. Many soccer coaches practice tough love, but that’s just plain mean.
The one former teammate who terrified Gerard Pique
Gerard Piqué moved from one famous soccer club to another in search of game time, but it didn’t work out for the youngster at Manchester United. He failed to settle in England, partly because he was homesick, partly because he couldn’t understand a word his manager was saying. « The gaffer [Sir Alex Ferguson] spoke a very Scottish kind of English that might as well have been Chinese, » Piqué once said (via The Guardian). Ferguson was known for a being fiery character behind the scenes, but he was nothing compared to combative midfielder Roy Keane, the one Manchester United player who absolutely terrified Piqué.
Speaking to The Players’ Tribune, Piqué recalled the time he forgot to turn his cell off before a big game. The then-18-year-old was already nervous about playing alongside some of the greatest players of that generation, so the last thing he wanted to do was stand out. Of course, that’s exactly what happened — his phone went off in the dressing room, and Keane reportedly flew into a rage. « You know the famous scene with Jack Nicholson in The Shining, when he bursts through the door? That’s what he looked like, » Piqué recalled (via the Independent). « ‘Whose. Bloody. F**king. Phone. Is. That?!’ Finally, I spoke up, like a little boy. Very softly, I said, ‘I’m so sorry, it’s mine.’ Roy lost his mind! » How did Piqué react? « I almost s**t myself, » he admitted.
Shakira’s ‘husband’ went to Harvard with Katie Holmes
Enrolling in a summer course at Harvard in 2017, Gerard Piqué joining the prestigious school’s Business of Entertainment, Media, and Sports program. Rapper LL Cool J and actor Channing Tatum took the same course the previous year, and Piqué’s class was also full of famous faces, most notably Katie Holmes. « I am so thankful and excited to be at Harvard Business School with so many brilliant people, » the Dawson’s Creek alum wrote on Instagram. Former footballer Rashean Mathis, basketball star CJ McCollum, and rugby player Jamie Heaslip were also part of the class of ’17.
For Piqué (who taught his professor some soccer skills between classes), Harvard was all about getting ready for the future. He’s already expressed an interest in following in his grandfather’s footsteps by representing Barcelona at a boardroom level, and according to those who know what that entails, Piqué is the « ideal person » for the president job. « He knows the club, he’s a Barcelona fan, he’s a player, the best center-back in the history of Barcelona, and he has character and the will to work, » former president Joan Laporta told RAC1 (via the Daily Mail). « He’s shown that he’s ready. »
Shakira has been targeted by rival soccer fans
Gerard Piqué may be a popular figure in Catalonia, but Barcelona isn’t the only soccer team in the region. Barca’s star defender often comes under fire from fans of the team’s local rival, Espanyol. There’s nothing unusual about fans insulting opposition players with chants, but in Piqué’s case, he isn’t the sole target. In January 2020, officials from La Liga hit Espanyol with disciplinary action after its supporters sang a derogatory song about Shakira a total of 13 times during their match with Barcelona. « The chants are said to have been started and engaged with by fans in the Curva RCDE, a notorious ultra group, » Football Espana reports.
This wasn’t the first time die-hard Espanyol fans had used the Colombian songstress to get to Piqué. The club was fined around $26,000 in 2016 after supporters created an insulting banner and unfurled it during a game, knowing it would be seen by TV cameras and, most likely, Shakira herself. There’s nothing that Piqué can do to stop people bringing cardboard cutouts of his baby mama to games, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get his own back during interviews — the Barcelona legend stirred the pot when he suggested that Espanyol wasn’t even in Catalonia.
Gerard Pique’s practical jokes have landed him in hot water
Shakira’s beau has a reputation as a serial prankster in the world of soccer, and it’s well-earned. Gerard Piqué has played tricks on numerous teammates, but, while his fans love his mischievous streak, his victims don’t always see the funny side. The Barcelona defender made headlines in 2014 when, according to Spanish outlet Sport (via the Daily Mail), he decided to set off a stink bomb on a team flight to Finland. That might seem pretty harmless, but this wasn’t even a private flight — furious airline staff apparently had to apologize to other passengers for the unpleasant smell.
The stink bomb incident is just one of many. Piqué and Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi reportedly set a staffer’s moped alight because the engine was too loud (the duo supposedly replaced it with the latest model the day after), and that wasn’t the first time he played with fire. Piqué once admitted that he torched some custom-made shoes belonging to his Manchester United teammate, Patrice Evra.
« I went to the showers, made a little bonfire and burned them, » Piqué said (via AS). Evra was not amused, and later revealed how he got his revenge while appearing on quiz show A League of Their Own: « I took his shoes and went into the toilet, and I s**t inside them. » Did they remain friends? They don’t follow each other on Instagram, so read into that what you will.
He got involved in the Catalan independence controversy
Soccer is so popular in parts of Europe that it can influence politics, and nowhere is the line between the two more blurred than in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. While technically Spain, many residents of the region view Catalonia as its own separate entity, and debates over independence have been raging in recent years. Being Mr. Barcelona, it was only a matter of time before Gerard Piqué got involved, and he upset a lot of people when he did.
In 2017, the Catalan government announced it was going to stage an independence referendum, which was quickly ruled illegal by the central Spanish government. A number of Catalan officials were arrested and clashes between police and would-be voters got violent, something Piqué urged against on Twitter. Writing in the Catalan language, the athlete offered his support for the referendum using the hashtag #Votarem, which translates to « We will vote, » BBC Sport reports. Piqué has never confirmed that he would vote for Catalonia to leave Spain given the chance, but fans of the Spanish national side have come after him regardless.
Piqué has been booed by his own supporters in numerous international games, many of whom see him as being anti-Spain. Even some international teammates have taken issue with his involvement in politics — Sergio Ramos, who plays for Barcelona’s fiercest rival Real Madrid, said that stirring things up on Twitter was « not the best thing to do. »
His extracurricular activities have been causing trouble
Gerard Piqué is a busy man, so busy that he usually only sleeps for around four to five hours a night. According to Forbes, the soccer star begins work on his personal business ventures as soon as he’s finished training, but all this extracurricular activity is making Barcelona bosses nervous. Piqué’s purchase of FC Andorra led to questions about whether a player should be allowed to own a soccer club when he’s still playing competitively himself, and he upset a lot of people with his involvement in La Decision. The short 2018 documentary, produced by Piqué’s company, followed sought-after striker Antoine Griezmann as he decided whether to leave long-time club Athletico Madrid for Barcelona. In the end, he stayed put in Madrid, which made Piqué’s involvement all the more embarrassing.
« We respect the decision of Griezmann to renew with Atletico Madrid, like we respect the decision of any player about his future, » Barcelona’s vice-president Jordi Mestre said (via The Sun), before addressing the documentary drama. « We have told Piqué that his participation caused surprise and uneasiness both at the club and among Barcelona fans. » Reports coming out of Spain suggest that higher-ups at the club are so fed up with Piqué’s entrepreneurial pursuits that they started including so-called « anti-Piqué clauses » in their contracts in 2020, in the hope that it will keep players focused solely on soccer.
Shakira’s ‘husband’ Gerard Pique doesn’t care about being hated
Gerard Piqué has always been a polarizing character, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. Described by Forbes as an « elegant Catalan [who] has the intelligence to win most arguments and doesn’t fit into the ‘dumb footballer’ narrative in any way, shape or form, » he tends to court jealousy. The fact that he goes home to Shakira at night certainly doesn’t help that. Add the fact that Piqué isn’t afraid to comment on hotbed political issues, and it’s not hard to see why some people just can’t stand the man. Does he let that bother him? You know enough about Piqué at this point to guess the answer.
« I take no notice and I have a good time, » Piqué said when he was asked about his haters during an appearance on Antena 3’s El Hormiguero (via Global Soccer), reminding viewers that they shouldn’t always believe what the media tells them. « The world of football is a show, » Piqué claimed. « Everything is a farce, everything that you read is a lie … When we get in a mess it’s because we want to, we want to add a bit of spice. »
The Barcelona star admitted that he used to let his critics get him down when he was new to the game, but he’s too old and wise to let that happen these days: « Now it passes me by. »