Alexis McAllister started rocking when he first met Lionel Messi. He started second guessing himself.
“I didn’t know if I would give a (high) five,” the midfielder once joked. In these days, the nerves are gone. So he has uncertainty about how to deal with the Argentina captain.
At times, it only took one look for McAllister and Messi to be on the same page. The instructions for the Argentine talisman can be quite simple: let it go.
Alexis McAllister had a shaky start when he first met Lionel Messi, but the uncertainty about how to interact with the Argentina captain has now disappeared and he is a key part of the squad.
Central midfielder Mc Allister has been a vital link in his side’s World Cup campaign
And that means that on Sunday night in Doha, there is a chance that McAllister’s legs may, in fact, be shaking once more. That was the slogan of the last few weeks.
If all the graft, noise and color of Argentina ends in World Cup glory, the midfielder may again be at a loss for what to say or do.
But neither Messi nor the returnee has any doubts about one thing: the rhythm of this last dance is created by the qualities similar to McAllister and his terrier.
At Brighton in the Premier League, they believe the intelligent, technically gifted star can do a seagull job anywhere on the pitch.
The Argentina captain is brought to the brink of immortality on the backs – well, the legs – of his teammates. They worked while Messi walked. They applied pressure while he explored. All so they can watch while he waves his wand.
Of course, there’s more to Mac Allister than brains and foundation. This 23-year-old Argentinos Juniors product – where Diego Maradona was carved out – is gifted with intelligence and technical brilliance. He was used in various roles at Brighton. They believe he could do a job anywhere on the field.
In Qatar, he scored his first international goal to help Argentina beat Poland and reach the last 16. However, in this team, in this World Cup, everyone is a Messi-supporting team. They knew it before they landed.
“He’s our most important player,” McAllister said. “The World Cup will be very important for everyone because we want him to lift the trophy.” One more step. Another chapter in the remarkable story of the McAllister family.
They have roots in Ireland and Italy; Some of the family still live near Dublin. However, recent generations have become the tie that binds two great pieces of the South American football tapestry: Messi and Maradona.
Decades before Alexis played alongside Messi, Carlos McAllister was Maradona’s teammate. They would travel the world together.
Diego was a monster and I was an ordinary player. We were close; He looked after me,” Carlos told the Guardian this week.
Decades before Alexis played alongside Messi, his father Carlos McAllister (right) was a teammate of another Argentina legend, Diego Maradona (left) – they traveled the world together.
Kolo (or ‘Ginger’, the nickname given to Alexis until Messi stopped it) made only a handful of appearances for Argentina, including in the 1994 World Cup play-offs when Maradona returned to the Reds. The executor was with him.
So Mac Allister’s was a supporting role then and now. He and Alex’s two older brothers – Kevin and Francis, both footballers at home – followed Argentina to Qatar.
Even distant relatives are watching with interest. The Irish media followed the McAllister family tree in Donabate, north of Dublin. The first McAllisters went to Argentina in 1865, apparently.
They settled in Pergamino, but Alexis was born 300 miles away in Santa Rosa. Recently, a rift has developed in the bloodline: McAllister and his father disagree about who is better. Messi or Maradona.
Messi can strengthen his case on Sunday and fill the last hole in his trophy cabinet at the age of 35. McAllister will be 24 on Christmas Eve. He will then resume his duties in Brighton.
The now 23-year-old will start for Lionel Scallone’s side in the World Cup finals on Sunday.
It debuted in March 2020, their last game while the country was in lockdown. Those early days were marked by struggle. He ‘suffered and wept’ with longing.
He struggled with the physicality and intensity of the Premier League. But at Brighton his abilities were never in doubt. Mac Allister became a decisive player.
His roots remain unmistakable: even in winter, the midfielder lights a barbecue and drinks tea with Mate. This quiet, humble child also shares his father’s taste in this work.
“He doesn’t say much, but what he does say is definitely worth listening to,” says the source. “He knows football better than anyone else.”
Is there anything surprising? Given that as children the McAllister brothers were asked to provide scouting reports for their father. Carlos still analyzes their performances as well. Good luck finding fault with the last few.