The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is not exactly famed for his leadership qualities but Messi was reportedly quick to intervene when one of his teammates felt uncomfortable
International call-ups for the first time are likely to be a notably daunting experience at the best of times, but being on the receiving end of “ginger” jibes is hardly going to make life easier.
Unfortunately, that was the reality for Mac Allister who was the butt of many jokes made by his fellow Argentine’s while enjoying a training session during a recent international break.
The 23-year-old has clearly impressed the national side with his displays at the Amex, Brighton’s number 10 registering four goals and two assists so far this season.
As a result, Mac Allister has been selected in the Argentina squad for ‘La Albiceleste’s’ final round of World Cup qualifying fixtures.
Argentina actually took on the Chileans on Friday and ran out 2-1 winners, though Mac Allister was not present as the midfielder has been given extra time off to recover fully after contracting Covid-19.
Brighton’s South American playmaker has already had the chance to train with national treasure and global icon Messi during a previous meet-up.
“I trained with him when I was in the Argentinian squad twice, but I didn’t play with him,” Mac Allister told The Athletic. “It was fantastic, the same as in the matches he trains. It’s something you cannot believe.
“I remember everyone called me ‘Colo’, which is ginger in Argentina. I don’t like it much and he told the team-mates that. He said, ‘He doesn’t like to be called Colo, so don’t call him that!’.”
Mac Allister went on to recall how he felt when meeting the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner for the very first time.
“I was red, completely red. I didn’t want even to say hello. I was really nervous even to meet one of the best players in the world, but it was fantastic, of course,” the Argentine explained.
“It’s something I’m not going to forget. It was magic when my dad played with Maradona and I could train with Lionel Messi. We are very proud of it.”
Mac Alllister has just two Argentina caps under his belt so far but did feature regularly for the U-23’s during the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer.