Ireland may not have been at the World Cup in Qatar, but Irish fans were able to get behind Argentina in Sunday’s final thanks to the Irish connection of one of their players.
Alexis McAllister had only made two appearances for Argentina so far this year, but has impressed since returning to the national team in March.
The 23-year-old Brighton midfielder has since made 12 appearances for Lionel Scallone’s side, six of which came in Qatar, where he starred for Argentina in their final win over France.
He missed Argentina’s opening group match against Saudi Arabia, but started the remaining six games as Argentina lifted the trophy for the third time.
He scored the opener in the group stage win over Poland, and in the final he assisted Angel Di Maria’s goal to make it 2–0.
Obviously, a surname like McAllister stands out on a team sheet that includes names like Messi, Alvarez and Martinez, so what’s the story behind his legacy?
Co Antrim roots
Former GAA president Aoghan Ó Fearhail recently revealed on Twitter that the McAllister family originated in Cushendall, Co. Antrim, before moving to the village of Donabete, about 10 miles north of Dublin.
The Irish Times adds that Mac Allister’s great-grandfather Donabatt traveled to South America in 1868.
In his tweet, Ó Fearghail shared a picture of himself with McAllister’s cousin, Ricardo ‘Dicky’ McAllister, former president of the Buenos Aires Hurling Club in Hurlingham.
Dickie Mc Allister, BuneosAires, receives his International GAA Award, 2018. His family originated in Cushendall, Co Antrim, moving to Donabate, Dublin in the 19th century. Dick’s ancestor went to Argentina in 1868, his cousin Alex is playing for Argentina in the World Cup in Qatar. pic.twitter.com/gBkNSZPjO2
— Aogán Ó Fearghail (@aoganofearghail) December 9, 2022
The photo was taken in February 2018 when Dickie received an international award at the GAA President’s Awards.
Speaking to RTÉ News this week, Dickie explained that Alexis’ grandfather moved from Pergamino in Buenos Aires to La Pampa in central Argentina.
Meanwhile, BBC Northern Ireland spoke to residents of Cushendall, where the Mac Allisters originated and where the name is very common.
“The place comes with them and there are two or three different ways to spell it,” said Fergus McAllister of the local GAA club.
“Here’s McAllister with one L, McAllister with two L’s, [Alexis’] It is spelled Mac Allister, but that is its Gaelic spelling.
“If I were to write my name in the game, this is what I would write.”
Alexis’ father Carlos was also a footballer who played for Argentino Juniors and Boca Juniors.
He also made three appearances for Argentina, appearing alongside Diego Maradona, Gabriel Batistuta and Diego Simeone.
In 2004, he told Argentine sports magazine El Gráfico how he had lost touch with his Irish roots but still hoped to see Ireland one day.
Alexis’ brothers, Francis and Kevin, are also footballers who play for Rosario and Argentino Juniors respectively.
Their uncle Patricio, brother of Carlos, was also a footballer, playing for clubs in Argentina, Mexico and Japan.
While he may not be wearing green, Irish fans at least had someone to cheer for as Mc Allister helped Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar.