Alexis Mac Allister is part of an Argentine footballing dynasty, and on Sunday the 23-year-old will attempt to further furnish the Mac Allister legend with a win in the World Cup final.
Ahead of the tournament, Mac Allister and members of his family – his father Carlos and brothers Francis and Kevin – were the focus of the new Warner Bros. Discovery series, World at their Feet.
Mac Allister was an unused substitute in Argentina’s shock 2-1 loss against Saudi Arabia in their opening match of the World Cup. He has since been a mainstay, starting every match as Lionel Scaloni’s side navigated their way to the final.
The 23-year-old looks a lock to start in the World Cup final against France on Sunday, as Argentina aim for a third World Cup win and a first since 1986.
It has been quite the journey for a player who began his career at Argentinos Juniors, before a surprise move to Brighton and Hove Albion in 2019.
Mac Allister’s name may not have been a household one when he arrived in the Premier League, but he is part of a footballing dynasty.
Both of his brothers are footballers in Argentina. Francis plays for Rosario Central, and Kevin turns out for Argentinos Juniors. They are the sons of Carlos Mac Allister, and nephews of Patricio Mac Allister.
Carlos played with distinction for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Racing Club and Ferro Carril Oeste, and also represented Argentina. He has played with some of the greats of the Argentine game.
“I played with some great players,” said Carlos, talking to World at their Feet.
“Like [Diego] Maradona, [Claudio] Caniggia, [Fernando] Redondo, [Gabriel] Batistuta, and [Oscar] Ruggeri – important players in the history of Argentinian football.”
Alexis was born in Santa Rosa, La Pampa, but grew up in Buenos Aires. And he and his two brothers followed in the footsteps of both his father, Carlos, and Maradona by turning out for Argentinos Juniors.
“Argentinos Juniors is like the ‘Argentinian opportunities club’,” added Carlos.
“It is a club where if a boy plays well, they will always give him the opportunity to play in the First Division.”
As well as Maradona, the club also has had Juan Roman Riquelme grace its pitch, and on November 25 2017, in a match against San Lorenzo, the brothers appeared together for their boyhood club – Francis and Alexis started, with Kevin coming on as a substitute. It was a “beautiful” moment, which “the whole family enjoyed immensely” said Alexis.
Just over a year later, Alexis moved to Brighton in the Premier League. He signed a four-and-a-half-year deal, and was then loaned back to the Argentine Primera Division, first to former club Argentinos Juniors and then Boca Juniors.
The acclimatisation to the Premier League was difficult. He told World at their Feet that he “suffered and cried” – adding that he knew, though, he would be able to succeed in the Premier League.
“The first year was tough for me,” said Mac Allister.
“It was a year of many changes. I fulfilled the dream to move to a Premier League team [but] it was not as easy as I had imagined. When I got here I realised, physically perhaps, that I was not at the level I needed to be for the league.
“At times I also suffered and cried, and I missed my family and my friends, but I never gave up and I knew that I had the ability to be able to play here.”
After those early struggles, Mac Allister established himself in the Brighton first team – playing 21 times in the Premier League during the 2020-21 season and earned himself a spot in Argentina’s Olympics squad.
“Being in the Argentinian national team was always my dream,” added Mac Allister. “When the opportunity arrived to participate in the Olympics, I spoke with the club first. Initially, they had no plans to let me go to the Olympics, yet I pressed.
“I pushed because I felt it was very important for me to represent Argentina at the Olympics. That chance doesn’t come around every day.”
Argentina finished third in a group that included Spain, Egypt and Australia. However, it set in motion the process that saw Mac Allister recalled to the senior Argentina squad. He returned to the squad in January 2022 – two-and-a-half years after collecting his first two caps for the senior team. He has since added a further 11 caps.
Cap No. 14 could see him win the World Cup.
In doing so, Mac Allister would help Lionel Messi follow in the footsteps of Maradona, and further the legend of the Mac Allister football dynasty.