Mac Allister father plays football with Maradona, Mac Allister stands with Messi
Carlos Javier Mac Allister used to play with Diego Maradona in the Argentina shirt. Now, his son is side by side with Lionel Messi.
“I cried,” said Carlos Javier Mac Allister, then fell silent again. Five seconds passed before he continued to say something. “I cry a lot,” he said, swallowing, then paused, taking a breath. “But…” He brought his hand to his eye, pressed it gently, and eight seconds passed again. “I try to be alone.” Another pause, this time longer. That moment played over and over in his head.
“You’ll understand when you’re a father,” he said at last, in a choked, broken voice.
It is true that having a child can understand that feeling, but not every father is as blessed as Carlos Javier Mac Allister. 10 days ago, Mac Allister was sitting in the stands of 974 Stadium next to his two eldest sons. They both kept their eyes on the pitch, where their youngest son, Alexis, scored for Argentina. Kevin and Francis are both footballers, playing for Boca Juniors and Rosario Central respectively. Their cousin is playing soccer in Malaysia.
Mac Allister himself was a professional football player in his youth, and together with his brother Patricio, they founded a club called Club Deportivo Mac Allister. Nicknamed “Colo”, Carlos Mac Allister once stood with Diego Maradona; His son, Alexis, is now Lionel Messi’s teammate in the Argentina national team.
|(Photo: The Guardian)|
Not every father has that honor, and not every family boasts such a connection. “Ah, actually: Diego and Gio Simeone,” said Mr. Mac Allister with a grin. His son Alexis joked that because of that, he and his father always had an argument that never came to an end. That’s right, for Alexis, Messi is the greatest; and his father countered that it was Maradona, not only because he was a teammate of the legendary Diego, but also one of the late monument’s very close friends. After all, these quarrels only broke out at home. Only, the father of the Mac Allister family came to admit that he had lost to his son.
“Only compare Messi with players of his time. Don’t compare Messi to Maradona, or compare Maradona to Di Stefano,” said Carlos Mac Allister. “But look, Messi is now the best player of all time. He’s also the best player in the World Cup, at the age of 35; it’s like his birth certificate was forged. Modric’s too. In 2005, Argentina participated in the U20 World Finals and when they returned, people talked about a player who would be better than Maradona. He was only 18 years old that year.” Mr. Mac Allister drew a dribble in the air. “Tic, tic, score. 17 years later, he’s still playing! No one reigned that long. Maradona even retired at the age of 32. Everyone said this would be Messi’s last World Cup. But is that so?”
“I’m a rational person and Messi’s numbers are out of the question. What more do you want?! It’s just, we have to consider the context. Maradona took on all his personal problems, even those that helped him bring home the World Cup. He went to Italy, carried the whole city on his shoulders, made them champions. Now you look at Messi and think: Maradona is really amazing, really great, but Messi is the example. You look at Messi, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, Ramos and you get one thing: You don’t have to play like them, be professional like them.”
That message is also what Mac Allister always tells his children. Mac Allister said his ancestors came to Argentina from Ireland in the 1800s and were of Italian blood. They live in the lowlands of Pampas, and because of that, Alexis was the first player from La Pampa (Argentina) to come to the World Cup. But if you look at this thing called identity, it has to be football. The Mac Allisters love football. When Mr. Mac Allister and his children visited the Argentina team at the hotel two days ago, there was a mobile phone on their table showing the Morocco vs. Portugal match.
Mr. Mac Allister owes a smile with a hint of pride on his face as he recalls his son Alexis being invited to Villarreal to discuss a transfer five years ago. Since he couldn’t go with his son, he decided to send Kevin and Francis instead. “When the meeting was over, the Villarreal side called me and said, ‘Your mother, Javier, you are such a good child!’ My children know all the information about the players, about each team. I once heard Raphinha say that he likes to watch serials; what about my kids, they watch this match after game from morning to night, watching while drinking mate. When they were little, I used to say: ‘You look closely at players No. 2 and No. 4; and I look closely at players number 8 and number 5; you are number 10 and number 11. I will take care of the rest of the players.’ They will write it all down on paper: correct passes, missed passes, successful headers, missed headers,…” Mr. Mac Allister is still the same, he analyzes every game for his children.
|Mac Allister father|
So obviously, children are the product of the father? “Not at all,” denied Mr. Mac Allister. “They are the product of a football academy, which is Argentinos Juniors. The family is the place that helps them become good citizens. The rest is on their own. Children are not remote controlled objects. They have to find their own way, not always looking at their parents.”
“At games, people would pat me on the back and ask, ‘Colo, what do you do to have such a good son?’ No no. As their mother, my children inherit values from their mother. I am their father, but not the one who gives birth to the children’s future, that is: The clubs, the coaches, the teammates, as well as the whole family, the big brothers of Alexis are important. with the boy. Kids don’t become footballers because they’re told to be: They’re players because they want to be, and football is their passion.”
And yet: Mr Mac Allister raved about Brighton and a future in which his son Alexis will continue to be in the Premier League, statistics that reflect Alexis’ progress, especially since since he had a change of position. He recalls a long cross-court pass that Alexis made in his second game, aged 17: “I have to say, it was ‘Brilliant! And full of personality. That’s what a professional level player looks like.’ So I don’t think pressure will affect him: Pressure is his best quality.” When asked what in Alexis’ play helped his son make his own name Mac Allister, Colo smiled. “It’s tackles,” he replied, then showed off a photo. “And that’s the only thing it’s inherited from me!”
“I will never be the ‘papa tonto’ type of father, who brags and says that his children are the best. The kids know that the most important thing is the team. And I often remind them: ‘Hey, you haven’t played 400 games,'” said Mac Allister, laughing. “I also told my children that I once scored against Real Madrid. But they don’t believe it. The match was broadcast on television one day, and I was like ‘Watch this’. You need to remind them of such things from time to time. But my children are now thousands of miles away from their father. The more they leave me behind, the happier I feel.”
No father feels prouder than Mr. Mac Allister right now. “Although I am worried about Alexis’ injury in the last game against Aston Villa, I still believe he will be called up to the national team.” Then, Mr. Mac Allister did not think that things were going so well for his son. His son’s journey is also his own journey of discovering joy. “This is probably my first World Cup,” said Mac Allister. “Now I know what the World Cup is like, what it means. And how wonderful it is! I’ve never had a chance to go to a World Cup before.”
Mac Allister’s only appearances for Argentina were in the play-off match against Australia, the match that helped Argentina win the right to the 1994 World Cup. It is said that at that time Mac Allister could not get a promotion to the national team. because he kicked Ariel Ortega in the Super Classic match between Boca and River. “No, it’s the other way around!” he objected. “It’s actually because I didn’t kick him. I should have buried him forever. I didn’t play well that day, although I don’t think the final decision is based on that single game. Jorge Valdano once said that every player needs to have a little bit of guilt in him, but I didn’t have any of that day.”
“The play-off match against Australia is truly historic. Both the country and the team were tense at that time. We lost 0-5 to Colombia and football feels hurt. That’s why I hope I’ll make it to the World Cup as well. But anyway, I feel satisfied that I gave everything I could to help Argentina win the World Cup that year.”
USA 1994 was also the place where Maradona had to leave the tournament because he tested positive for doping, the conversation now turned to the captain and teammate of Mac Allister. “First of all, I don’t think Diego is on drugs to play better, I think it was just an accident. And as an idol, you are ready to forgive everything. It’s just that when your leader falls, you fall too.”
Mac Allister recalls one night in Brazil many years later, when Maradona “nearly died”. Then he said: “Maradona flirts with death every day. Maradona was only bad to Maradona himself, he was never bad to anyone else; he treats himself badly, not others. Diego is a monster on the pitch, and I’m just an ordinary player. We are very close, he always tells me, takes care of me. Back then, he even gave me, Kily Gonzalez, Juan Sebastian Veron and Blas Giunta a Rolex each. Unfortunately, that watch was stolen from me after leaving Racing’s yard one night. The robbers broke the car window, pulled me out, one of them pulled out a gun and threatened: ‘Give me the Rolex, or I’ll kill you.’ That watch was worth more than $5,000, but it was valuable to me because it was a gift from Maradona, the way he gave it to me.”
“We used to go around the world and wherever we went, there were always about 200, 300, then 1000 or 2000 people waiting. They were there not waiting for us, they were there waiting for Maradona. He is an extraordinary player, the most outstanding. But people don’t want a sporting figure, they want a spiritual leader, they want to hear his perspective. Maradona once said: ‘Sometimes I wake up, look at myself in the mirror and ask: Dieguito, what do they want from you today?’ They asked Maradona about world leaders, about this and that war. Why would they want him to talk about such things?! In situations like these, you’re better off answering: ‘I have no opinion on this matter,’ but Diego’s personality is different, he always has an opinion on everything.
“Leaders absorb all the pressure. One reason Messi is great is the way he handles it. Messi is polite even when he tells you to go away. Messi and Maradona grew up in different countries, different circumstances, different eras. Therefore, they simply have different personalities; different people. Maradona’s responsibility that day now rests on Messi. But wanting to be Messi is not free. He never shirks that responsibility: If Messi is tagged, just give him the ball. For the Argentinians, Maradona is always Maradona with the national team’s colors. But Messi also shows that he loves this country, loves this shirt, the way Maradona loved. When things go bad, he refuses to give up. And when leaders do, you simply listen to them. I really like this current version.”
|Messi and Mac Allister baby|
Kevin and Francis too, the whole Mac Allister family is present at every Argentina match in this World Cup. Above all, it was his youngest son. “You have to know how to play next to Messi. Messi has been the best player for 15 years now,” said Mac Allister. “My kids were only 6 or 7 years old when Messi started. When I was little, my brother and I shared a room: There was a table, two beds on each side. We used to turn off the lights, turn on the radio and listen to Victor Hugo Morales commenting on Boca games. One day, Boca won the championship. I close my eyes and imagine playing next to Maradona in the future. And that day really came, I did it.”
“Those seniors or seniors will always be their idols. Children are not allowed to forget and must always show respect. Just the other day, we met Gabriel Batistuta. Alexis invited Gabriel’s children to play and it made me feel proud. My children are molded by Batistuta, Maradona, Ruggeri, Batista… But at some point, they need to untie the knot, put aside the thought ‘he is our idol’ me’ to switch to ‘he’s my teammate’.”
But how? “By personality,” Mac Allister asserts. “All of my kids have that personality, not just Alexis.”
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