Two years ago, Divock Origi was starring for Belgium at the World Cup, a performance that made him one of the highest rated young strikers in Europe. Last year, he was struggling for form at Lille and about to be named by L’Equipe as one of Ligue 1’s worst players.
Having settled at Anfield, the 20-year-old quickly put that bump in his development behind him, establishing himself as a valuable striking option for manager Jürgen Klopp and a player with enormous potential, one who seems more comfortable with the demands of top flight football by the week.
"It was an awful year," said Origi. "It was a hard situation but I’m sure it made me a lot stronger. It wasn’t easy. But when you have a good base then you don’t have to worry. At the end of my career it will only make it more special to say, ‘the year before this happened, then the year after…’"
As for what comes next for Origi this year, he’s hoping to take another step in his development by making an impact in tonight’s Europa League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund. It’s the kind of major mid-week cup tie every player dreams of playing in, and Origi’s looking forward to it.
"To play a game like this is the reason I came here," he said. "This is a big club and we want to win prizes. I just try to prepare as much as possible. I was very happy to get game time in the first leg, and I just wanted to do my best. When someone shows confidence in you, you want to reward it.
"Afterwards, the manager just said, ‘well done.’ He knows I have a long way to go. I know that, too, so I just try to enjoy the moments when I can score and help the team. I feel I’m playing well and scoring goals, which is important for a striker. I feel fit and I’m expressing myself better on the field.
"I feel good at the club and it is a combination of all these things that is making me perform well on the pitch. But I also know that people have to see my full potential."