Exclusive interview with Alexis Mac Allister: Brighton’s World Cup winner on almost leaving the club and what happens next | football news

Exclusive interview with Alexis Mac Allister: Brighton’s World Cup winner on almost leaving the club and what happens next | football news

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“In that moment we realized what we had done and how important it was for Argentina and the people,” Alexis Mac Allister told InNewCL Sports. He recalls the scenes when five million people took to the streets of Buenos Aires to celebrate the country’s world championship title.

His part in making this happen is already legendary. For Angel Di Maria’s goal that gave Argentina a 2-0 lead in the final, it was Mac Allister’s flick around the corner to Lionel Messi, his decision to continue his run and his perfectly sliced ​​pass down the goalscorer’s path.

Alexis Mac Allister kisses the World Cup trophy after Argentina's win over France

Image: Alexis Mac Allister kisses the World Cup trophy after Argentina’s victory over France

His greatest moment? “I think so. I heard Di Maria say that everyone will remember that goal because it was so beautiful. It was an incredible moment for me and the team. An incredible goal.” Of course, there were more twists and turns.

Some after Mac Allister was substituted in the 116th minute.

“I remember hugging Papu Gomez. Then I turned around and they got the penalty. I thought that can’t be possible. At the same time we knew we had done it [Emi] Martinez on our team. He’s a fantastic goalkeeper. He helped us win that game.”

Brighton's Alexis Mac Allister with his World Cup medal for Argentina at an adidas shoot

Speaking to InNewCL Sports in west London, Mac Allister has brought his world champion’s medal with him. The celebrations in Argentina were to be expected, but that love has spread to his new home. Brighton showered him with affection on his return.

“It was amazing to share my medal with everyone. I knew they would all be happy for me because they knew they had been such an important part of my journey to the World Cup over the past three years. But I wasn’t expecting this reception, to be honest.”

Mac Allister had just emerged from his teenage years when he signed for Brighton in January 2019. He was loaned to youth club Argentinos Juniors and then Boca Juniors before finally making his Premier League debut in March 2020.

“It was a challenge for me,” he admits.

“The first year was tough. Coming here, a new language, a new culture, a different football. I’m grateful to the people who supported me during that first year because it was tough. I just trained hard because I knew my moment would arrive.”

That’s easy to say now. At 23, Mac Allister’s status as one of the game’s stars is assured, but there were times when his rise didn’t seem so inevitable. With hindsight, was there ever a moment when he feared that wouldn’t happen to him in English football?

“Yes, sure. There was a moment when I thought about leaving. It was December 2021 and I wasn’t playing. I said if I see in January that I don’t have my chance, I think it’s time is to go and look for another opportunity somewhere else.”

On this Boxing Day, a seemingly unremarkable game in the Premier League proved the catalyst. “I remember Graham Potter playing me against Brentford. Since that game I’ve played all the games.

Mac Allister is mature enough to acknowledge that waiting may have helped. “I think I’ve improved a lot since coming to England and I’ve learned a lot. Of course I needed the opportunity to show that. I am truly grateful to Graham and his staff.”

Brighton's Alexis Mac Allister with his World Cup medal for Argentina at an adidas shoot

Part of the confusion with Mac Allister was that it wasn’t immediately obvious how best to use his abilities. Was his best position as No. 10? That’s a certain responsibility for a young player. The temptation was great to push him far. But he could also play deeper.

“I grew up when I was 10. But then I understood that I could play more positions. I always say that I just like being in contact with the ball. The closer I am to the ball, the better I feel. I like to play as a midfielder, whether as a 6, 8 or 10.

“I think it’s important for the modern player to be able to play in different positions, to give the team and the manager different options. If you were to push me, I’d say I’m more comfortable being 8 today, but I know that I can play as a 6 or 10.”

Alexis Mac Allister's positioning for Brighton year after year

His father Carlos, himself an Argentina international, prefers to see his son play further up the field and would have appreciated Di Maria’s goal more than anyone else. It happened exactly as he had told his boy. “Ever since I was a kid,” laughs Mac Allister.

“I remember when I was playing on the age group teams, he would go and watch me. If I played a ball to the sides, I stayed in my position, but he told me to go into the penalty area. He loved scoring goals. I know it’s important for a midfielder.”

Brighton have scored seven goals this season, including two against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup last month. He might have scored a hat-trick against Leicester had VAR not intervened and his free-kick late on the day might have been his best yet.

Mac Allister loves long-range dips and is among the top three players in the Premier League for shots from outside the 18-yard box this season. “I like to shoot from outside the penalty area. I also improved my free-kicks a lot,” he explains.

Alexis Mac Allister's shot card for Brighton this season

“At Brighton we work with software, a machine that helps us know how to improve, where we should hit the ball, the spin. That helped me. When you hit the ball, the stats from the cameras tell me if I should put my body over the ball more.

“It’s a really nice way to learn.”

As for the defensive side of the game, Mac Allister has embraced it fully. Perhaps surprisingly for such a technical player, the Argentine ranks among the top 20 players in the Premier League when it comes to attacking opponents and winning back the ball.

Alexis Mac Allister's saves for Brighton

“It’s something I’ve improved a lot. When they got me down to a 6 I did better, but this defensive side is more about decision than position. It’s about wanting the ball to win back the decision to go and press and attack and win it back.

The result of this collective desire is that Roberto De Zerbi’s side are on course for the best league spot in the club’s 122-year history. how high can they go “We’re in good form, but it’s always difficult to finish in the top six in this league,” said Mac Allister.

“It would be amazing if we could reach that level. Roberto said we need to be more aggressive and win games like that against Liverpool. These are the games that get you in the top six. It would be amazing but.” we know it’s going to be difficult.”

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Other clubs are taking note of their success and offers from elsewhere for their outstanding players are inevitable. From Kaoru Mitoma and Moises Caicedo to Mac Allister himself, the success of Brighton’s recruitment has become the envy of the Premier League.

“There aren’t many players who come straight from Ecuador, Argentina or Japan,” admits Mac Allister. “But Brighton are doing a great job and then it’s up to the players to show what they can do. Everyone knows how good Mitoma and Caicedo are now.”

And of his own future?

“If a good offer comes in for the club and for me then we will make a decision but I like to live in the present and am really happy here in Brighton. The dream was to win the World Cup and I managed to retire now. But I still like to play football.”

Alexis Mac Allister wears the new adidas X Speedportal, available at

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