Footballers who excel at international tournaments are invariably linked with moves to bigger, more established clubs both during and immediately after such tournaments. Global coverage brings that about. Patrik Berger is one example from Liverpool’s past because he was signed from Borussia Dortmund at the age of 22 years and 32 days after the Wembley final of Euro 96, in which he had scored for the Czech Republic. Divock Origi became an even younger example by signing for Liverpool in the week of the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil with nine months of his teenage years still left.
Although Origi was born in the Belgian port city of Ostend, his background is the East African country of Kenya. Divock’s father Michael was born in Kenya but played for six different clubs in Belgium and it was during his time at the first of those clubs, K.V. Oostende, that Divock was born in April 1995. Divock’s cousin Arnold plays professionally in Norway so he has definitely been brought up in an environment where football has been a major factor. Origi’s fledging career began as a youth in the city of Genk in Belgian Limburg but he moved to Lille just across the Franco-Belgian border soon after his fifteenth birthday. He had to be content with reserve-team football initially but showed enough promise to be named in the first-team squad for a French Cup-tie in January 2013 three months before his eighteenth birthday. His senior debut came only nine days later when he scored in a 1-1 draw with Troyes in front of a crowd of over 36,000. Nine more Ligue 1 appearances followed before the end of the season but no more goals. That changed in 2013/14 when he played in 30 of Lille’s 38 league matches, scoring five times and helping his club to third place behind Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco to reach the third qualifying round of the 2014/15 Champions League.
Michael and Arnold Origi both played international football for Kenya but Divock has been representing Belgium at different levels since his mid-teens and had particular success in the Under-19 team, for whom he scored 10 times in 19 matches. The Football Kenya Federation made enquiries about him but any doubts about dual-nationality were ended when national team manager Marc Wilmots named him in the 23-man Belgian squad that would travel to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup finals, and it was there that his profile was really enhanced when he scored a late goal to defeat Russia in the famous Maracanã Stadium in Rio. Having only been a substitute in the first two group matches he might have been disappointed not to start the final group match after scoring in the second. But he still played for half an hour against South Korea as Belgium topped Group H with the maximum nine points. The young forward started the first knock-out match against the United States but was replaced by Lukaku for the period of extra-time. Lukaku scored in Belgium’s 2-1 victory but Origi still started the quarter-final match against Argentina in Brasilia which the South Americans won with a solitary early goal from Higuaín.
Five appearances and one goal in a World Cup finals while still a teenager certainly made Divock Origi a name to remember. If those statistics attracted different clubs around the world, there is no doubt that Liverpool had been monitoring his progress long before a ball was kicked in Brazil. He was also been made available for a realistic fee considering that he had been under contract to Lille until the end of June 2016 and after signing for Liverpool he was loaned back to the Ligue Un club for the whole of the 2014/15 season.
Origi played in 33 of Lille's 38 league matches in 2014/15, scoring eight times. He made a further 11 appearances (one goal) in cup competitions. Lille finished the French season in 8th place, which was not high enough for them to qualify for Europe in 2015/16. In the summer of 2015, he joined his new Liverpool teammates on their tour of the Far East and Australia, scoring in the opening game against the Thai All Stars
. Under Brendan Rodgers, Origi did not start a league game, but he was given a chance in Jürgen Klopp's first Premiership match in charge away at Spurs. After then being taken out of the limelight to work on his strength, Origi got an opportunity in the quarter-final of the League Cup against Southampton, scoring a hat trick in a 6-1 win. He made a huge impact in the second half of the season and was a firm favourite with fans for his refusal to give up. Origi scored in both legs of the Europa League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund and finished the season with ten goals from 33 appearances. He was called up to the Belgian World Cup squad where he was ahead of Christian Benteke in the pecking order.
Origi joined Wolfsburg on loan in the Bundesliga in the summer transfer window of 2017 and had an underwhelming season there, finding the next just six times in 31 appearances. With Liverpool's first-choice attack being almost undroppable and Daniel Sturridge rejuvenated, Origi spent much of the opening few months of 2018/19 not even making the matchday squad. Between August and November, his one appearance was as a second-half substitute away to Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League when Liverpool already trailed 2-0. However, in the first Merseyside derby of the season on 2 December Origi wrote himself into Anfield folklore. Coming off the bench with six minutes remaining for his first league appearance of the season, he seized upon a calamitous error by keeper Jordan Pickford to head the ball into the net deep into injury time and claim all three points for the Reds.
The derby goal was rewarded with a start at Burnley four days later, but Origi was withdrawn midway through the second half with the score at 1-1. His appearances for the rest of the season were mainly from the bench, but he weighed in with some important goals. A late headed goal at Newcastle in the final away game took the title race to the final day, while he scored twice on an unforgettable night at Anfield as the Reds overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit against Barcelona to reach the Champions League final. In Madrid on 1 June 2019, Origi earned immortal status in the eyes of Liverpool supporters as he came off the bench and score the vital second goal two minutes from time as Liverpool beat Spurs 2-0 to become champions of Europe for the sixth time.
Divock Origi's progress was rewarded with a new long-term contract at Liverpool in July 2019. “I always felt comfortable here. I made steps during my career, I say that I became a man here at this club, I signed when I was 19," Origi told Liverpool's official website, “When we had to make the decision I just wanted to speak with the club first and my entourage, but the feeling was always that I wanted to stay and extend my contract. It’s an amazing club, we have a good group, the staff are amazing. Even coming into Melwood, the people that work here and everything, you feel there is something special going on here. We’re still young so there’s a lot of potential in the group. I’m just having fun in training and on the pitch. Those are all important factors as a player.”At the end of my career, I want to sit back and be proud that I used all of my gifts and talents.I think the next years are going to be very special – prime years, maybe – and I’m going to try to use them to the fullest."
Origi only started a third of his 42 matches in the 2019/20 season which could be expected with the front three of Salah, Firmino and Mané a firm first choice. Origi could be accused of not using his talents recently to the fullest when he did get a chance to shine. He scored a couple of goals in the 5-2 victory over Everton on 4 December 2019 but that has really become customary as he has scored a total of five goals in eight Merseyside appearances. Origi didn't get on the scoresheet again until in the final game of the season, at Newcastle when he delivered a rocket into the far corner outside the box, a true Origi moment. He seems to spring to life when you least expect it. The popular character might have to seek pastures new to continue his career but he's already left a good impression on Reds' fans.
James Milner has a soft spot for him as he revealed in his book "Ask a footballer". "There are two sides to Div really. He's a very intelligent guy and speaks four languages fluently, and you can tell how committed and determined he is by the way he has forced his way back into the team at Liverpool. But away from the pitch he's just so incredibly relaxed, without a care in the world. If someone has ever left something on the plane or on the bus, it will always be Divock. 'Does anyone know who these headphones are?' 'Yep. They're definitely Div's. What would my life be like if I'd never met him? Probably a lot less fun. Sometimes when you speak to him in the dressing room, you're not sure if he's listening. 'Does he remember what the manager has been telling us all week? Does he even know who we're playing today?' And then he'll come on in a big game and he'll produce the perfect performance as a sub - and you think, 'Yes, he was listening after all.'"