For Brighton fans, what Alexis Mac Allister said on Saturday will have meant as much as what he did.
Twenty days after he won the World Cup with Argentina in Qatar, the midfielder was in the North East of England scoring twice for his club in a resounding FA Cup victory.
Yet if that was not enough for Brighton supporters, Mac Allister then gave them even more to celebrate, declaring: ‘I feel very happy to be a part of this club and to be in this city, so I will continue to give it my all.’
Alexis Mac Allister pledged his future to Brighton after scoring twice in a 5-1 FA Cup victory
Of course, such sentiments do not guarantee he will still be a Brighton player come the end of this month’s transfer window.
But it should give fans hope that they will get to see a World Cup winner at their club for at least a few more months. And if his cameo at Middlesbrough is anything to go by, they are in for a treat.
‘He has come back from the World Cup with a swagger,’ said a Brighton official after the game.
And that swagger was there for all to see with the way he finished for his first goal — and Brighton’s third — just 13 minutes after being introduced off the bench.
The Middlesbrough victory was just 20 days after Argentina’s No 20 lifted the World Cup
With his back to goal, Mac Allister diverted Pervis Estupinan’s wayward strike into the bottom corner with an audacious flick of his boot.
‘It was a nice goal,’ said Mac Allister. ‘Confidence is everything in a football player and my confidence is very high.’
Mac Allister’s second was a more traditional finish from Pascal Gross’s cut back, justifying Roberto De Zerbi playing him further up the pitch.
The Brighton boss, whose side will face Liverpool or Wolves in the fourth round, said: ‘Before the World Cup, I used him in midfield to build the play. Now he’s higher he can help us find the last pass and find the goal.’
Roberto De Zerbi said he was using Mac Allister higher up the pitch after his return from Qatar