How Liverpool striker Divock Origi used two Merseyside Derbies to go from forgotten man to cult hero

4 Dec

If you look up the term ‘cult hero’ in the dictionary, a picture of Divock Origi should appear.

Origi joined Liverpool from Lille for £10million in the summer of 2014 aged 19, with the Reds seeing him as a future star.

Divock Origi – Click the arrow for more
Origi was signed off the back of his impressive 2014 World Cup with Belgium
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He was sent back on loan for the 2014/15 season and it looked like Liverpool had invested horribly after he was included in L’Equipe’s ‘Worst Team of the Season’ after a return of just eight goals in 33 league appearances.

But a deal’s a deal and Origi headed to Merseyside that summer to a team at a crossroads with Brendan Rodgers’ future as manager under increasing doubt.

Rodgers was given the heave-ho by Fenway Sports Group and was replaced by Jurgen Klopp. The German seemed to take to Origi instantly.

"He just wants to play with passion and no fear," - Divock Origi on Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp
Origi played the full 90 minutes in Klopp’s first game in charge of Liverpool
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The Belgian led the line for Klopp’s first game in charge of the Reds, a goalless draw at Tottenham.

No goals for Origi that day but there would be some in the near future.

A League Cup tie at Southampton in December 2015 was the moment where Origi showed the Liverpool faithful exactly what he’s about – bagging a ‘perfect hat-trick’ at St Mary’s – left foot, right foot and head.

The goals kept on coming and important ones too – Origi scored in both legs of Liverpool’s incredible triumph over Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League quarter-finals.

But less than a week later, a huge setback as Origi was stretchered off with an ankle injury after being on the end of a sickening challenge by Ramiro Funes Mori.


It wasn’t a serious injury but it stunted the striker’s development and that as well as the emergence of Klopp’s front three, Origi only managed 11 goals the following season.

He was then shipped out on loan to Wolfsburg in a bid to find his form again while Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were scoring goals for fun.

Things didn’t work out that way though – Origi managing just six goals in 31 Bundesliga appearances.

Unsurprisingly, the German club said to Liverpool could have Origi back and he returned to a squad that was rapidly getting better with seemingly no purpose.

But then a huge moment.

Thrown on in the 84th minute as Liverpool desperately tried to break the deadlock against Merseyside rivals Everton, Origi made himself an Anfield legend in the craziest of circumstances.

The game was consigned to a 0-0 draw when Virgil van Dijk’s poorly executed volley appeared to be harmlessly going over the bar.

Like all good strikers though, Origi followed the ball in hope that it might miraculously fall to him. It did.

Jordan Pickford spilled the ball straight into Origi’s path, who nodded the ball home.

A moment no Liverpool fan will ever want to forget
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Klopp ran on the pitch in celebration – later picking up an £8,000 fine for it – and Liverpool kept up with title rivals Manchester City. Origi was back in the picture.

Of course, he was never going to displace either Salah, Firmino or Mane in the first-team but he became something of a secret weapon for the rest of the 2018/19 season.

His late winner at Newcastle kept Liverpool in the title race by the skin of their teeth in the penultimate game of last season.

And three days later, he was part of the side that defied the odds to overturn a 3-0 deficit by winning 4-0 in the Champions League semi-final second leg – the greatest night Anfield has ever seen.

Origi has claimed he felt ‘at peace’ on the morning of the game, bear in mind that this was the morning after Vincent Kompany’s incredible long-range strike against Leicester which effectively took the Premier League away from Liverpool. How can anyone be that chilled out?

Incredibly though, Liverpool produced a phenomenal performance to book their place in the final. Origi scored two goals including the decisive fourth goal which took the Reds through.

Origi celebrates his second goal against Barcelona
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Trent Alexander-Arnold will get the credit for his imagination by taking a corner quickly but it was a hard finish for Origi, which he finished with aplomb.

And in the final he scored the goal which sealed Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Tottenham as the Reds won their sixth crown in Europe’s premier club competition.

Origi has had to be patient for his opportunities this season too but was rather surprisingly given the nod by Jurgen Klopp for the 234th Merseyside Derby.

Almost a year on from THAT winner against Everton, Origi produced more heroics by getting on the scoresheet twice.

The first saw Origi latch onto Mane’s through ball before rounding Pickford and calmly slotting the ball home.

His second was superb, controlling Dejan Lovren’s long ball perfectly before lobbing the Everton glovesman as Liverpool romped to a 5-2 win at Anfield.

Origi’s fortunes at Anfield have well and truly changed
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It’s rather fitting that just like he did in the same fixture last season, Origi produces more heroics.

He looked like he was just going to be another failure of a signing but incredibly, Liverpool fans are now having conversations, albeit most of them ironic, about whether he is now a club legend…

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