Midfielder Alexis MacAllister (23) will be lining up with legendary Lionel Messi and his team as the Argies bid to win the Jules Rimet Cup for the third time, the first since famed Maradona and his side won in 1986.
Alexis’s family emigrated from Donabate in the 1860s and his father Carlos is also a famed footballer, having played for Argentina in the 1990s and is named ‘Colos’, a Spanish nickname for ginger because of his appearance (which Alexis also sports).
This week theSunday World arranged for their Donabate cousin Noel McAllister to meet for the first time one of two Argentinian families who live in the picturesque seaside town in north Co. Dublin.
“My great-grandfather’s brother, Joseph, left here this cottage, which was a long-thatched cottage at the time, it’s now been renovated a few times,” explains Noel, pointing to the family homestead which is still standing in the Fingal town.
“In 1865, he went down to Argentina. We presume he went on the cattle boats, then he sent back for his two nephews. They went a couple of years later. One was eight and one was 12. It wasn’t long after the Famine.
“When I was young I was told that there was family in Argentina and Australia,” recalls Noel.
“The ‘Mac’ is the Irish for ‘Mc’. That’s my theory on it. My second cousin Dickie out there, he had a different theory, maybe when you are filling out forms the ‘Mc’ didn’t make sense to them so they changed it to ‘Mac’.”
Noel has been to Argentina three times, visiting a hurling club in Buenos Aires too. “They are more Irish than we are. We have been in the hurling club in Buenos Aires a few times and you’d want to see all the press stuff on the wall,” he beams.
“They are wishing to come here. Carlos has his club to look after, a soccer academy, and he’s all over the country as he’s also a politician, He’s a very famous man there.
“I went into a man’s shop there once and I was buying a few things. I gave my credit card. He said ‘are you related to the red Carlos?’. I said ‘yes’. He ran down the store waving the card, ‘this man is related to the red Carlos’. I had about 10 or 15 lads around me.”
His grandson Andrew reveals several relatives from Argentina have come knocking on their door.
“They came and said ‘we’re the Argentinian MacAllisters’,” he smiles. “Since then we’ve reconnected with the family. We’ve been over to them a few times.
“Every two or three years one of the MacAllisters comes over here to visit us. They are spread out all over the country.”
In the nearby Somerton estate in Donabate, lives Neil McDonagh and his Argentinian wife Natalie and their three sons Juan (8), Naomi (12) and Marcos (14).
A huge Argentinian flag is draped from an upstairs window and the family are delighted to meet Noel McAllister for the first time when we introduced them.
Being such a small town, it turns out Neil coaches Noel’s grandson Jamie in the local GAA club St Patrick’s.
“We are from Bahia Balanca, near Buenos Aires and I’m [here] 21 years,” says Natalie.
Neil had been volunteering for a church project in Argentina when he met Natalie.
Natalie has met the other Argentinian family in Donabate through embassy parties, which are usually held on the country’s Independence Day of May 25.
“There are between 600 to 800 Argentinians living in Ireland...We only found about Alexis’s connection to Donabate two weeks ago.
“We are very fond of Messi. He is such a humble player, apart from his skills. I really hope for him and everybody else in the squad that they win the World Cup, because France is a good team.”