It’s a rarity for footballers to be in the same team as their country’s most iconic stars – but Alexis Mac Allister’s family have done it twice.
Mac Allister’s dad, Carlos, played with Argentina legend Diego Maradona at Boca Juniors. Now his son, Brighton playmaker Alexis, is following in his footsteps in playing alongside the country’s best and is going to the World Cup with Lionel Messi.
Carlos and Maradona played alongside each other during the latter’s second stint at the Primera Division side in the 1990s, less than a decade after he captained Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986.
And the footballing legend had a profound effect on Carlos’s career, according to the Seagulls star.
“Maradona was really important for my dad,” he told talkSPORT.
“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.”
Of course, Mac Allister is an impressive player in his own right, starting every one of Brighton’s Premier League games this season and helping the Seagulls to 7th place in the table.
Not to mention he has seven caps for his country at 23 years old and is, most importantly, heading to the World Cup in Qatar to hopefully represent them again.
‘The love affair is over’ – Ferdinand gives Carragher his verdict on Ronaldo
Non-league club make offer to sign Haaland on loan from Man City during World Cup
Man United issue statement in response to Ronaldo interview with Piers Morgan
Souness thinks Ronaldo has been mistreated but Jordan tells him why he’s wrong
England’s possible route to Qatar 2022 World Cup final with dates and times confirmed
Morgan reveals Ronaldo ASKED HIM to do interview which has stunned Man United
But playing with Messi has surely got to be a career highlight for the midfielder.
Given not many footballers get to say they’ve shared a dressing room with one of the greatest players to ever grace the sport, talkSPORT asked the Argentine to reveal what it’s like to be in the same dressing room as the legendary star.
“It’s amazing,” the Seagulls playmaker said.
“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.”
The World Cup trophy is the only piece of silverware that has evaded 35-year-old Messi in his career, having coming unbearably close back in Rio in 2014, losing 1-0 to Germany in the final.
And when asked if he and Messi could finally win the world title for their country for the first time since 1986, Mac Allister recognised his side were more than capable, but kept his feet on the ground.
“Of course, we believe we can do it,” he explained.
“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.”
Watch the World Cup with talkSPORT
At talkSPORT we are powered by fans, so come and join us for the ultimate World Cup fan experience this winter – at the talkSPORT Fan Zone.
In a huge indoor venue under the arches at Waterloo in London, we’ll bring you live screenings of every World Cup game.
There will be Q&As with talkSPORT talent, you’ll be part of our live broadcasts, and there will be plenty of food and drink on offer too.
Come and enjoy the best World Cup fan experience in London – and enjoy a pint on us – with tickets for England and Wales’ group stage games on sale now HERE!