Divock Okoth Origi was born on 18th April 1995. This was just 32 days before Everton beat Manchester United in the FA Cup Final on 20th May 1995. The significance of this is just how connected Divock Origi is to our neighbours across Stanley Park.
Thanks to Jay Pearson for this guest post!
Signed in July 2014 from Lille for £10m, Origi was Brendan Rodgers’ SIXTH signing of the summer. Sixth signing? Something about that number!
At 19, Origi still had a lot of development, and it was decided that he would remain on loan at Lille for the 14/15 season to gain more first team experience. Origi finished his final season in Lille making 44 appearances and scoring nine goals and being named in L’Equipe’s worst Ligue 1 team of the season
Origi finally arrived at Anfield in the summer of 2015. He joined Daniel Sturridge and new forwards Danny Ings, Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino. For the 2nd season running, Liverpool’s forward line had another major overhaul.
Origi made his Liverpool debut, coming on for Ings during Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, famous for Martin Tyler’s Anthony Martial commentary and Benteke’s amazing overhead goal.
Rodgers only started Divock twice in the Europa League before he was sacked and replaced by Jurgen Klopp.
Origi then started Klopp’s first four games in charge. Ings had been ruled out for the season and Benteke wasn’t performing to his potential. Add that to the fact that from day one, he was never going to be a Klopp type of player.
Klopp was an admirer of Origi during his time as manager of Dortmund; Liverpool beat him to the signature of the young Belgian.
“I wanted to take him to Dortmund when Liverpool bought him,” Klopp said of Origi.
“We could not because he went to Liverpool and on loan to Lille. He is a very good player. Fast and a good technician, at this moment not full of experience in the game because he didn’t play so often but we will have fun with this player, I’m sure.”
HAT TRICK HERO
Origi’s next start would come at Southampton in the league cup quarter finals, and with that came his first goal for the club…and his second….and his third! Sturridge’s first game back was the headline news, but it was Origi that stole the show as Liverpool hit the Saints for six (there’s that number again!) despite a certain Sadio Mane scoring the opening goal in the first minute for Southampton. His performance was a 10/10 display. All three goals showcased attributes that a deadly striker should have at that level, including a well struck shot into the top corner for his second goal. But a 20 year old that is able to perform like that really showed Liverpool fans that they had a serious talent up top.
His next and first Premier League goal for Liverpool came in the 96th minute (remember that minute for later) the infamous “Liverpool won the West Brom Trophy” match. The match where Klopp marched the players back on the pitch to say thank you to the fans. Which in turn generated memes and GIFs that rival fans would taunt Liverpool fans with on social media for a number of years. Liverpool were a disappointing 9th place – one point above rivals Everton. Klopp knew he had a job to do here.
Origi’s goal sparked an idea in Klopp. We needed a lift and see a togetherness of a squad that is albeit not performing well in the league but with the potential to change things. You could say it was the catalyst to what would happen in 2016 and the future for both Liverpool and Origi. Things were definitely achievable with the ex-Dortmund boss.
PACE AND POWER
Those were the words that Klopp used to justify the reasons to start Origi away at Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the Europa League Quarter Final. Origi had not scored since February when he bagged a goal in the 6-0 (six again!) demolition of Aston Villa.
Klopp was right to start him as he bagged the opening goal on 36 minutes to put Liverpool 1-0 up and get a crucial away goal in such a unique and tough atmosphere.
Origi showed why he has the attributes to be a ‘complete’ striker. His hold up play on the night was fantastic and needed. Especially with a defence that came up against some heavy pressure at times. But he had his first goal in Europe for Liverpool and went back to Anfield with a crucial away goal with the scores tied at 1-1 on aggregate.
The 14th April 2016 has been added into Anfield folklore. It’s one of those “Where were you when” nights.
Anfield has seen some incredible European nights. Inter Milan, St Etienne, Auxerre, Roma, Juventus, Olympiakos, Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid. We could be here all day!
But when Dortmund came to Anfield it was extra special. This was Klopp’s old team. This was a club that Liverpool fans respect. It was going to be a special night.
After nine minutes, Liverpool were 2-0 down, 3-1 on aggregate and needed three goals to save the tie. A mammoth task it seemed at half time. You could forgive Liverpool fans for having that small doubt in their minds that they could turn it around. This was Dortmund after all. But more importantly, This is Anfield. We’ve been here before. We know what it takes to score three second half goals. Olympiakos anyone? Istanbul?
Just like that night in December 2004, Liverpool got the early goal to get them right back in the game with Origi once again latching onto a through ball and finishing brilliantly between the goalkeepers legs. Game on! That early goal galvanised everyone connected to Liverpool inside that ground. Origi had turned the game around and gave Liverpool a great chance to get the goals needed to take them through. Marco Reus spoiled things later on meaning Liverpool again needed 3 more goal, but goals from Couthino, Sakho and big Degsy Lovren with THAT goal sealed a memorable night for Liverpool and passage into the Europa League semi-finals for the first time since 2001.
Origi was gaining momentum. He was establishing himself as really important player for Liverpool. There were no longer raised eyebrows if he started games. There was also excitement if he was coming on from the bench if the game needed that injection of pace and power.
Ramiro Fumes Mori. That name does not sit well with any Liverpool supporter after his disgusting tackle on Origi, which did more damage to Origi’s Liverpool career than it did to his ankle ligaments. It was bad enough that Mori could’ve potentially broken the ankle of Origi but to follow it up with him grabbing the Everton badge as if he was doing it some kind of service is not something that even Everton would condone, never mind anyone else associated with Football.
Origi had scored the opening goal in an emphatic 4-0 victory over our Merseyside rivals. However Klopp was heartbroken. You could see that as Origi was taken off the pitch via a stretcher. In the post-match interview Klopp explained how important Origi is to this team, especially with a Europa League semi-final on the horizon. But this was effectively the end of Origi’s season. It put the brakes on a fantastic run of form. Had it not happened, who knows what could have happened. Klopp would have had a bigger selection headache for the Europa League Final and ultimately, Origi was a substitute for the final.
2016-17 saw Origi start 3 of the first 15 matches. All in the league cup. Liverpool had signed Sadio Mane from Southampton, which meant first team opportunities would be limited. But another up and down injury season for Sturridge and Ings injured meant that opportunities opened up for the Belgian International.
From the end of November to December he started six of the seven games and helped himself to five goals in the process. Bang in form and showcasing the ability that we all loved towards the end of the 15/16 season before a cruel injury halted it all.
One goal in the next 18 games did not do Origi any favours. Mane was becoming Liverpool’s player of the season and there was already talk of finding the next “Mane”. Someone who can have just as big an impact as Mane had. A player that would add much needed balance to the side and that can add numbers to the goal scoring charts.
Origi added another Merseyside derby goal in a 3-1 win. Origi replaced the injured Mane after opening the scoring himself. Origi started 7 of the remaining 8 fixtures and added two more goals to his tally for the season. But these starts were due to Mane and Lallana being out injured.
Post season, questions were being raised as to what Klopp needed in order to fight on four fronts in 17/18. Champions League football was back at Anfield and it was clear that Mane and Firmino were certain starters in a formation were Klopp favoured a front three. But no one could lock down that third spot and it was evident that it needed balance.
Origi made a deadline day move to Bundesliga side, Wolfsburg for the 17/18 season. He registered six goals in a miserable season that saw Wolfsburg battle relegation. All this while Divock had to watch his Liverpool team-mates storm to the Champions League final in Kyiv.
With questions marks again over Sturridge, it was clear Klopp still thought highly of Origi considering many Liverpool fans and journalists alike thought cashing in on the Belgian was the right thing to do. Good job Klopp gets paid to do what he does!
Origi made one appearance in the Champions League away at Red Star. But it was his second appearance of the season against Everton an Anfield that will go down as arguably the greatest Merseyside Derby since Gary Mac in 2001, especially at Anfield anyway.
Origi came on in the 84th minute to try and break the deadlock that Liverpool needed to secure three points and keep the pressure on City.
He missed a golden opportunity when he hit the bar from 3 yards out.
But it was in the 96th minute (96th again!) that he was the most alert player on the pitch when Pickford made a terrible error which led to the most bizarre goal in derby history!
Liverpool had beaten Everton, again. Liverpool had scored in the last minute again. Liverpool had scored in the last minute against Everton…again! Shades of Mane and Gary Mac all over again.
“Saturday Night and I like the way you move,
“Its Sunday night and he scored against the shite”
BossNights were filled with the sound of the new Origi song and even one fan got the Belgian strikers name tattooed on his leg! Origi was etched in Liverpool folklore forever.
It was a night of redemption for him. Two years prior, his season and possibly his Liverpool career was over thanks to that “tackle” by Funes Mori. What must that do to you psychologically? It was the perfect way to seal redemption.
Eyebrows were raised when he started against Watford. But he answered with a goal and arguably a man of the match display. Origi was becoming the player Klopp knew he would be. Getting his head down, getting stuck in, playing for the shirt and contributing when he good. It’s the sign of a quality player.
THE BIGGEST WEEK EVER
Liverpool travelled to Newcastle on a Saturday night looking to go back top of the Premier League. Once again, he came on as a substitute to score the winning goal in a 3-2 win which sent Liverpool back to the summit. The elation was increased considering what had happened in the Nou Camp earlier in the week. The dreams of a historic double had waned due to Liverpool losing 3-0 to Barcelona in the first leg.
Earlier in this piece I mentioned that Liverpool have had some incredible European Nights at Anfield. But this one, was the most incredible. All future “Top 10 Anfield nights” will only be disputed from 2-10. This will always be number one.
Again, there is always a chance with this team. Anything can happen an Anfield. But with no Salah or Firmino, the pressure was on. Questions were asked again if Origi and Shaqiri can fill the void.
Origi answered immediately with the opening goal of the game after five minutes. Which sent Anfield into meltdown, believing this could be done. We had seen it against Dortmund and Olympiakos, but this was Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Co. Gini Wijnaldum added two more goals after half time, but it was the quick, genius thinking of Trent Alexander-Arnold that gave Origi (up until then) the biggest moment of his Liverpool career.
Origi was alert enough to see Trent had taken the corner quickly and finished brilliantly to make it 4-0 and send Liverpool to Madrid and another Champions League Final!
Another notch on his “Anfield Folklore” belt!
Origi had now established himself in the same breath as Dirk Kuyt. A man for the big occasion. He may have not got many goals, but his contribution in big games and when it matters will make him a fan favourite forever and possibly cult hero status.
His attitude has been right out of the top draw and the timing of his goals against Everton, Newcastle and Barcelona have been just the rewards he deserves. Many other players would have agitated a move away from Liverpool by now, for “first team opportunities” But Klopp has installed a mentality of a team that is a family and everyone contributes and is valued.
As Liverpool lined up for a ninth European Cup Final, Origi might have thought he was hard done by because he was sitting on the bench as Firmino had been declared fit to start. Origi had contributed dramatically in place of Firmino and some people would have picked him ahead of Bobby. But Firmino’s contribution in games is outstanding and our front three works so much better when he’s in the side.
Early in the second half of the 2019 final, Origi came on to replace Firmino in a game that lacked the blockbuster performances and excitement that the semi-finals delivered.
The game could have swung either way. Liverpool were 1-0 up and were absorbing pressure late into the game as Spurs were growing into the game. A Spurs goal would surely put them in the driving seat, but a second Liverpool goal everyone knew the game was over.
On 87 minutes, the breakthrough came, and Origi scored the biggest goal of his career.
The forgotten man at Anfield. The man who was on loan and fighting for survival in the Bundesliga. A striker who was voted in Ligue 1’s worst 11 of the season.
This was a player who at times was 4th & 5th choice striker at Liverpool.
A hard-working forward who has a fantastic mentality to rise again after so many set-backs had just scored the goal that would seal the European Cup for Liverpool for a sixth time.
What a story!
Whatever happens next in his career. Origi is a European Champion. He has not got a medal by default, he has contributed when it mattered. He has a fantastic attitude that many young players can learn from. He waits patiently for his chance and when he gets it, he takes it. He has no doubt earned a new contract from Liverpool with many fans, players and staff would love to see him stay.
People talked a lot about Mo Salah and his redemption for what happened in Kyiv, and rightly so. But let’s not forget the story of Divock Origi. The man who rose from the forgotten lands and became a Champion of Europe!