ALEXIS MAC ALLISTER can get some tips from his dad on what it takes to play alongside one of the greatest footballers of all time.
The Brighton playmaker will link up with Lionel Messi at the World Cup to represent Argentina.Alexis Mac Allister will line up with Lionel Messi at the World Cup[/caption]
It comes 26 years after father Carlos was lining up with fellow Argentina icon Diego Maradona for Boca Juniors.
He also played with Claudio Caniggia, Fernando Redondo, Oscar Ruggeri and Gabriel Batistuta – all legends of Argentine football.
Mac Allister Sr made his three senior caps for the national team in 1993 when Maradona returned to the international fold following his drugs ban.
And his son hopes he can have a similarly memorable experience alongside seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi.
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The 23-year-old said to talkSPORT: “Maradona was really important for my dad.
“My dad is really grateful to him and how important he was for him in his career and off the pitch as well.
“So yeah, he’s really grateful and it’s nice I could play with Messi and him with Maradona.”
On sharing a dressing room with Messi, Mac Allister added: “It’s amazing.
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“In the beginning, it was a bit weird, I was nervous because I’m a really shy guy.
“But he’s really nice. Really quiet, but I really enjoy sharing a dressing room with him and all the players in the national team.”
Mac Allister certainly comes from a football family with his uncle Patricio and two brothers all professional players – the three siblings even played on the pitch with boyhood club Argentinos Juniors together before the youngest left for Brighton in January 2019.
The Seagulls star confirmed his second sibling Kevin, 24, was indeed named after the Home Alone kid.
But with their surname more akin to their Scottish and Irish ancestry plus Alexis’ ginger hair, fans have understandably got a little confused by his Argentine accent.
Now with seven caps under his belt including the Conmebol-Uefa Cup of Champions, international team-mates even joined in with a light-hearted but unwelcome nickname – until the captain stepped in.
Mac Allister told The Athletic: “I remember everyone called me Colo, which is ‘ginger’ in Argentina.
“I don’t like it much and Messi told the team-mates, ‘He doesn’t like to be called Colo, so don’t call him that!'”
Mac Allister took a while to settle in England following his transfer from Argentina and returned for two loan spells.
But now he is enjoying his best form, with five of his 11 Premier League goals coming this season – including a belting free-kick against Leicester.
We believe we can win the World Cup… we will fight for itAlexis Mac Allister
He is one of the first names on the Brighton team sheet and it is his strong performances that have seen Mac Allister called up for the World Cup.
And with injuries to Giovani Lo Celso and Paulo Dybala, he could be set for additional game time in Qatar than he may have initially thought.
Now the midfielder is eyeing glory come December 18 in Doha – for himself, for Messi and for his country.
Mac Allister – who convinced Brighton to let him play at the Olympics last year – said: “At times I suffered and cried. I missed my family and friends, but I never gave up, I knew I had the ability to play here in the Premier League.
“I’ve always admired Messi, I played alongside Sergio Aguero too.
“My biggest dream was to play for the national team and that’s what most important.
“Of course, we believe we can win the World Cup.
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“But at the same time, we know it’ll be hard as there’s a lot of good national teams, really strong sides like Spain, England, Brazil, France, so it will be hard.
“We are not saying we are going to win it, but we will fight for it.”Lionel Messi will captain his country at Qatar 2022[/caption] Both of Alexis’ brothers – Kevin, left, and Francis, right – are pro footballers[/caption]