Mac Allister: I was shaking when I first played with Messi

Midfielder looking to continue his fine form for club and country.

By Bruce Talbot • 16 April 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Alexis Mac Allister returns to north London today hoping Albion can repeat their win over Arsenal against Spurs.

Alexis Mac Allister admits he still pinches himself that he’s on the same pitch as his hero Lionel Messi.

The 23-year-old midfielder and the legendary Messi will be heading to Qatar in November after helping Argentina qualify for the World Cup and Mac Allister is enjoying his best season in an Albion shirt as well.

But he admits he was ‘shaking’ with nerves when he first encountered Messi after his first call-up to his national squad. “I didn’t even want to say hello to him, I was shaking!” he said.

"It was amazing to play alongside him in those two matches last year in the qualifiers, he’s my favourite player and I’m looking forward to playing many more games with him.

“The players at Brighton ask me what he’s like and I explain that he’s an ordinary guy, quite quiet. I don’t speak a lot with him but he’s a nice guy.”

By Rex / Shutterstock
Lionel Messi is set to play in his fifth World Cup finals later this year.

Mac Allister’s focus for the next few weeks is trying to help Albion achieve their best Premier League performance. Five points from their remaining seven games will take them to 42 but they have already achieved a record for away points after last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Arsenal took them onto 22.

They are back in the capital – where they haven’t lost in six League matches this season – to take on fourth-placed Spurs, and after ending a seven-game winless run with victory at the Emirates, Mac Allister says they will travel with confidence.

“It was such an amazing feeling to win that game against Arsenal. We've been working hard to get a result after a bad run of games, but we did it and we are really happy.

“The mood was always really good. We know that we can lose games, but we have always been together. We know if we work hard that the results will come.”

Mac Allister has played 31 games in all competitions and scored four goals this season. “I'm really happy with my level,” he added. “I think I have helped the team and it's what I tried to do every day. If keep this level it will be important for me because I have a big goal this year with the World Cup coming up.”