Lionel Messi told Argentina players to stop teasing Alexis Mac Allister over being ginger because he didn’t like it.
The Brighton star received his first call up to the Argentina national team in August 2019 and had the pleasure of working with the country’s captain and all-time goalscorer in training.
Mac Allister made his debut for La Albiceleste against Chile at the Los Angeles Coliseum but he was more nervous about meeting Messi for the first time.
“I was red, completely red,” Mac Allister told The Athletic.
“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.
“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.”
But Messi was very welcoming to the former Argentinos Juniors man and leapt to his defence when other players were calling ‘Colo’ – ginger in Argentina.
Knowing that Mac Allister didn’t enjoy the playground insult over his hair colour, he told them to stop.
I trained with him when I was in the Argentinian squad twice, but I didn’t play with him,” Mac Allister added.
“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 wears the No.10 that is associated with Messi and does bear a resemblance to the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.
But the 23-year-old has his own unique story. His name and ginger hair comes from his Irish ancestry.
His father Carlos played as a left-back for Boca Juniors and linked up with Diego Maradona. He too was ginger.
Carlos Mac Allister has given some insight into son Alexis’ future
— GOLAZO (@golazoargentino) June 12, 2019
Brighton sign Alexis Mac Allister, son of Carlos Mac Allister, the most Scottish Argentinian of all time pic.twitter.com/BGSjso7Qqw
— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) January 24, 2019
Incredibly, he also has a brother called Kevin Mac Allister – an utterly brilliant Home Alone reference – and he is also a footballer.
Mac Allister has played 17 times for Brighton in the Premier League this season, scoring four times.
Featured Image Credit: Image: PA