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Alexis Mac Allister exclusive interview: Brighton’s World Cup winner on almost quitting the club and what happens next

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Alexis Mac Allister discusses that World Cup win with Argentina, the moment he thought about leaving Brighton, his positional changes since joining the club and what he wants to do next. ‘I could retire now,’ he jokes…

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

“In that moment, we realised what we did and how important it was for Argentina and the people,” Alexis Mac Allister tells Sky Sports. He is recalling the scenes as five million people celebrated the country’s World Cup win on the streets of Buenos Aires.

His part in making it happen is already the stuff of legend. For Angel Di Maria's goal that put Argentina 2-0 up in the final, it was Mac Allister's flick around the corner to Lionel Messi, his decision to continue his run and his perfectly clipped pass into the path of the scorer.

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 win over France

His greatest moment? "I think so. I have heard that Di Maria has said that everyone is going to remember that goal because it was so beautiful. It was an amazing moment for me and the team. An amazing goal." Of course, there were more twists and turns to come.

Some after Mac Allister had been substituted in the 116th minute.

"I remember I was hugging Papu Gomez. Then I turned back and they got the penalty. I was thinking this cannot be possible. At the same time, we knew that we had [Emi] Martinez in our team. He is an amazing goalkeeper. He helped us to win that game."

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

Mac Allister is speaking to Sky Sports in west London and has brought his World Cup winners' medal along. The celebrations in Argentina were to be expected but that love has extended to his new home. Brighton showered him with affection on his return.

"It was amazing to share my medal with all of them. I knew they were all going to be happy for me because they knew they were such an important part of my journey to the World Cup this past three years. But I did not expect that reception, to be honest."

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Mac Allister had only just put his teenage years behind him when he signed for Brighton in January 2019. He was loaned back to boyhood club Argentinos Juniors and then Boca Juniors before finally making his Premier League debut in March 2020.

"It was challenging for me," he admits.

"The first year was tough. Coming here, a new language, a new culture, different football. I am grateful to the people who supported me through that first year because it was a tough one. I just trained hard because I knew my moment was going to arrive."

That is easy to say now. At 23, Mac Allister's status as one of the stars of the game is assured, but there were times when his rise did not seem so inevitable. On reflection, was there ever a moment when he feared it would not happen for him in English football?

"Yeah, sure. There was a moment when I was thinking about leaving. It was December 2021 and I was not playing. I said that if I see in January that I do not have my opportunity I think it is time to leave and look for another opportunity in another place."

That Boxing Day, a seemingly unremarkable Premier League fixture proved the catalyst. "I remember that Graham Potter played me against Brentford. Since that game I have played all the games. It was the moment when I felt it was my opportunity and I took it."

Mac Allister is mature enough to acknowledge that the waiting game may have helped. "I think I had improved a lot since I arrived in England and I learned a lot of things. Of course, I needed the opportunity show it. I am really 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 was not immediately obvious how best to use his abilities. Was his best position as a No 10? That is some responsibility for a young player. The temptation was to push him wide. But he could play deeper too.

"I grew up playing as a 10. But then I understood that I could do more positions. I always say that I just like to be in contact with the ball. The closer I am to the ball, the better I feel. I like to play as a midfielder. It does not matter if it is as a 6, an 8 or a 10.

"I think it is important for the modern player to be able to play in different positions to give the team and the manager different options. If you pushed me I would say that today I feel more comfortable as an 8 but I know that I can play as a 6 or a 10 too."

Alexis Mac Allister's positioning for Brighton year on year

His father Carlos, an Argentina international himself, prefers to see his son play further forwards and would have appreciated that Di Maria goal more than anyone. It happened just the way he had instructed his boy. "Ever since I was a kid," laughs Mac Allister.

"I remember when I was playing in the age-group teams, he would go and watch me. When I used to play a ball to the sides I would stay in my position but he would be telling me to get in the box. He loved me to score. I know it is important for a midfielder."

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

Mac Allister is fond of a dip from distance, ranking among the top three players in the Premier League for shots from outside the 18-yard box this season. "I do like to shoot from outside the box. Free-kicks as well are something that I have improved a lot," he explains.

Alexis Mac Allister's shot map for Brighton this season

"At Brighton we work with software, a machine to help us to know how we can improve, where we should hit the ball, the spin. It is something that has helped me. When you hit the ball, the statistics from the cameras can say if I should put my body over the ball more.

"It is 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 for tackling and for winning possession back from the opposition.

Alexis Mac Allister's defensive actions for Brighton

"It is something that I have improved a lot. When they moved me to a 6 I did it better but that defensive side is more about the decision than the position. It is about that desire to recover the ball, the decision to go and press and tackle and win it back."

De Zerbi's tactics explained
De Zerbi's tactics explained

Read more from Alexis Mac Allister in this piece as we examine Roberto De Zerbi's tactics at Brighton

The result of that collective desire is that Roberto De Zerbi's side are on course for the best league finish in the club's 122-year history. How high can they go? "We are in good form but in this league it is always hard to get in the top six," says Mac Allister.

"It would be amazing if we could reach that level. Roberto said we need to be more aggressive and win games like the one we did against Liverpool. These are the games that will let you be in the top six. It would be amazing but we know it will be difficult."

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Other clubs are taking note of their success and offers from elsewhere for their standout 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 are not many players who come here straight from Ecuador, Argentina or Japan," acknowledges Mac Allister. "But Brighton do an amazing job and then it is 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 for the club and for me then we will make a decision but I like to live in the present and I am really happy here at Brighton. The dream was to win the World Cup and I have done it. I could retire now. But I still enjoy playing football."

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

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