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Derby Menace and Clutch Goalscorer: On Liverpool Legend Divock Origi

Has there ever been a player so seemingly peripheral and yet completely central as Divock Origi?

Liverpool’s Divock Origi celebrates scoring his side’s second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on April 24, 2022 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Liverpool’s Divock Origi celebrates scoring his side’s second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on April 24, 2022 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Photo by Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images

Divock Origi sits somewhere between cult hero and Liverpool Legend status, depending on who you talk to. Given what he has inflicted on Everton in the past, it might be appropriate if his last action in a red shirt is to be involved in the two goals Liverpool scored against an anti-football Toffees side embroiled in a relegation fight, a side whose tactics insisted that Liverpool not be allowed to play any semblance of beautiful, attacking football. What are tactics, though, when your opposition has Divock Origi?

While Origi has played relatively few minutes for the club when compared with other players over Jürgen Klopp’s reign, the Belgian has a penchant for important goals: goals against rivals; goals in semi-finals and finals; goals that keep Liverpool competing in a given competition. Origi is, as the saying goes, inevitable.

And yet he’s rarely central. Even so, that one could even argue he’s simply a “cult hero” given the goals he’s scored seems laughable. So let’s make it so. Let’s give Origi his roses.

Origi came to Liverpool in 2015 from Lille, where he had remained on loan for the 2014/15 season after the Reds purchased him for £10 million in summer 2014. The teenager was promising, and the step up to Liverpool marked a leap forward in his career.

In 2014, he spoke full of optimism about his future with the Reds.

“I am very happy and delighted a club as big as Liverpool showed interest in me. I’m very excited. I know it’s a club with a great history, great fans and a lot of great players. For me, Liverpool is one of the greatest clubs in the world and I’m very excited to be part of this great history.”

Of course, while we associate him with the present squad he was actually a signing for Brendan Rodgers, who had come within touching distance of a Premier League title with Liverpool in 2013/14. Rodgers suggested that the club had been monitoring Origi for some time before finally making their move.

“For me, he can be one of the most exciting talents in world football. I genuinely believe that. You see a lot of good players, but this kid – for 19 years of age – he burst on to the scene at the World Cup, but we’d tracked him before that, we’d seen him as a young player playing in the youth internationals. He has everything to be world class.”

In a largely forgettable 2015/16 season, Origi showed promise, playing 1,876 minutes in 35 total games, scoring 10 goals (0.53 goals per 90’). Liverpool were not good in 2015/16. I really only remember matches that I was physically at before Klopp was appointed in October — the start of 2015/16 felt like an extended hangover from the post-2013/14 internal combustion — but Origi scored his first goal under Klopp anyway. Liverpool were 10th when the new German manager arrived, but in his first match in charge optimism started to grow: an actual identity and sense of belief was apparent almost immediately; by January, Liverpool were coming back to win late, an early mentality-shift which foreshadowed that comeback against Dortmund in the Europa League.

Divock Origi (L) of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team’s opening goal with Adam Lallana during the UEFA Europa League quarter final, second leg match between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund at Anfield on April 14, 2016 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Divock Origi (L) of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team’s opening goal with Adam Lallana during the UEFA Europa League quarter final, second leg match between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund at Anfield on April 14, 2016 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Origi scored the third in that Dortmund match, going through and coolly finishing 1v1. He had also scored in the away leg, his sixth goal for Liverpool. In fact, his first 10 goals for the club hinted at a lot of what we would come to see from him: all types of goals, from an early poacher’s finish to strong headers to inch-perfect, strong finishes into the corner. He scored almost immediately after coming off the bench against Aston Villa, showing that he could make an impact both as a member of the starting 11 and as a substitute. His tenth goal, importantly, was his first derby goal: a strong header that opened the scoring in what would become a 4-0 victory.

His goal wasn’t what we remember, though. Origi scored in the forty-third minute of the derby, and was stretchered off in the fiftieth after a Rogelio Funes Mori horror-tackle that earned the Argentine a straight red. The promising start to Origi’s Anfield career was quite tragically put on hold with the resulting ankle ligament injury, which kept Origi out for the season.

The Belgian returned for the start of the 2016/17 season, but the side had moved on somewhat: Origi was limited to cup and substitute appearances (though he did manage 11 goals).

Klopp’s first full season is something of a forgotten season to many of us, though Origi lodged his second derby goal (a sublime long-range effort to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead on the sixtieth minute). His goals continued to often be very Origi-y, though, even then: strong headers, reaction-finishes, poaching finishes taking advantage of goalkeeping errors (see: Liverpool’s first goal at home against West Ham in a comeback 2-2 draw). He wasn’t the same player as he was before his injury, but still certainly played a part for the Reds, who were slowly building under Klopp, before going on loan to Wolfsburg the following season.

Up to this point, Origi would probably be classed as a “what could have been if not for injury” player for Liverpool, a bit part of the machine Klopp was creating.

After he returned to Liverpool for the 2018/19 season, though, this changed. Origi’s minutes remained limited (798 total), but he managed seven goals — and many of them absolutely crucial for the Reds.

It almost wasn’t to be. The club suggested that he go out on another loan, but this didn’t interest him; according to Simon Hughes, Everton actually made a bid for him, but the price just wasn’t right (just imagine that). Instead, Origi stayed to fight for a place at Liverpool.

While he didn’t force his way into the starting eleven, he certainly made his mark on Liverpool’s history. We’ll take that, Divock.

His first goal of the 2018/19 season was, of course, against our mates from across the park. It was that goal. That was the first score line contribution he made, back from loan. Amidst a purple flare billowing on the pitch to celebrate that the Blues hadn’t lost, Origi broke Toffees’ hearts by heading the ball in at 90+6’, releasing pandemonium, joy, and gleeful hilarity across Anfield. If this had been his only goal for Liverpool, he would be treasured. At the time we probably wondered how could he ever top it. What a miracle moment to give us.

Liverpool’s Divock Origi scores his side’s first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool.
90+6’, what a moment.
Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

After terrorizing Watford for fun in a way that could only be described as Mo Salah-esque, he became serious for the run-in, returning to the side to score a contested header at the death against Newcastle, keeping Liverpool’s hopes of a title alive in the final stretch. While Liverpool eventually lost out in the league to Manchester City, falling short by one point, Origi made sure Liverpool’s name was engraved in one trophy at least.

Next up for Origi was Barcelona, a heavy goal deficit, and a squad’s pure force of will. Liverpool were missing Salah and Bobby Firmino when Origi put Jordan Henderson’s blocked shot in early on to make the aggregate score of the tie 1-3. The roar of Anfield for the first goal suggests we believed in the comeback even then. Gini Wijnaldum came on at half to bring the aggregate score level, before Origi and Trent Alexander-Arnold combined to score one of Liverpool’s most memorable goals: corner taken quickly and — “he’s given it, HE’S GIVEN IT!” It was 90+6’ all over again, with the unlikeliest of goals sealing success, only on a much bigger stage.

Then, of course, the small matter of scoring the clinching goal in the Champions League Final. Routine, that.

Divock Origi of Liverpool celebrates with the Champions League Trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 01, 2019 in Madrid, Spain.
Divock Origi of Liverpool celebrates with the Champions League Trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 01, 2019 in Madrid, Spain.
Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Without being funny, Origi’s goal contributions in 2018/19 are enough to make you cry extremely happy tears. Very rarely has a player given fans that many moments. Have a look for yourself.

And Liverpool are a club of football miracles, small ones and large ones. I recently wrote a love letter to Liverpool FC, and back in February I spoke about what I mean by Liverpool’s specific brand of football miracles. Origi is very on-brand for them. They’re in his wheelhouse.

This season, this set of players has already given us something special: the potential for a quadruple. As supporters, we are really the luckiest there is; should Liverpool progress against Villareal, the Reds will have played in every possible match in all four competitions they’ve entered into this season, and they will have been very much alive in every competition in May. In so many seasons, your hopes of winning anything are dashed in January or February, and if you’re fighting for anything now it’s the mere potential of European football next season. I hope we never take potential of this variety for granted.

Divock Origi had a central hand in this May potential as well. The Derby reminded us of this, of course: Origi was involved in both goals, scoring the second and setting up Salah’s assist for Andy Robertson for the first. When he stepped foot on the pitch it was clear he rattled Everton and spurred Liverpool on; he is a player, especially against them, who you just believe will do something.

His contributions this season have been relatively limited, sure, though I will say that I cannot wait for the goal compilation that LFCTV will certainly release when he leaves Liverpool, as there are some truly spectacular forgotten goals in there (a scorpion kick, Divock?? Really??).

But the Reds might well win the league this season, and his contributions on Sunday, once again, keep that dream alive for the run-in. Pure echoes of 2018/19 there. Another Origi goal is just as crucial, however: he scored the only goal against Wolves at Molineux this season, and without those three points Liverpool would probably not be in the conversation for a league title. In true Origi style, the goal came in stoppage time. He scored at 90+4’ in a match with five minutes of stoppage time, right as the clock was ticking over into that ninety-fifth minute. Salah sent a sharp pass into Origi, marked tightly in the box by Conor Coady, and the Belgian turned and let off a powerful and pinpoint shot that bulleted to the back of the net, precisely finding its way past Coady, a desperately sliding Max Kilman, and grasping goalkeeper José Sa. Origi is inevitable.

Divock Origi of Liverpool celebrates with Mohamed Salah after scoring the winning goal during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux on December 04, 2021 in Wolverhampton, England.
Dejan Lovren eat your heart out: Salah celebrates with Origi after assisting the Belgian’s late goal to win at Molineux.
Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

So many of Liverpool’s players have contributed crucial moments, but we certainly won’t forget Divock Origi’s. If he leaves Liverpool at the end of this season, he will do so as a Legend, I think, truly beloved by Reds across the world. Indeed, the only player who has scored more derby goals for Liverpool is one Steven Gerrard (9) — Divock has netted six in 10 appearances, double what he’s scored against any other club. The only other player to score six against Everton? Robbie Fowler. It’s Divock and God.

Hopefully we also give a thought to how remarkable he is as a man, as well. One example of Origi as a man that is overlooked is his local scholarship. Take some time to look into it: he set it to help Liverpool-born students afford university, and he selects the scholarship winners himself. Why?

“I wanted to set up this undergraduate scholarship to give young people the opportunity to develop their own passion, the way I have.”

What a man.

The saying goes that Football without Origi is nothing. That’s certainly true on Merseyside.

Need more proof? Take a look at the replies and quote tweets to this on Twitter (which got over 100 Origi tributes in under an hour), or add your own testimonials into the comments. I would say he’s pretty well-loved, whether or not he has more Origi miracles™ to give us.

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