Football

Divock Origi leaves Liverpool as Anfield’s ultimate cult hero

Divock Origi leaves Liverpool as Anfield’s ultimate cult hero
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This summer signals the end of an era at Liverpool as Divock Origi officially brings his epic eight-year association with the Premier League club to a close.

The Belgium international striker has joined Serie A champions AC Milan on a free transfer after the Reds confirmed that they would not be renewing the 27-year-old’s contract.

Nevertheless, Origi departs Anfield as a true cult hero, beloved by fans for his commitment, work rate and happy knack of scoring a clutch of incredibly important goals in incredibly important games.

The forward first signed for the Reds in the summer of 2014 from Lille but was then immediately loaned back to the Ligue 1 side for the 2014-15 season as part of the deal. He was then formally introduced as a Liverpool player the following summer.

Things haven’t always run smoothly since then, but Origi can certainly leave with his head held high after playing a significant part in one of the most successful periods in Liverpool’s history. The striker won six major trophies during his stint on Merseyside: the Premier League (2019-20), FA Cup (2021-22), Carabao Cup (2021-22), Champions League (2018-19), UEFA Super Cup (2019) ) and FIFA Club World Cup (2019).

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So much more than his stats show

Despite being on the books for eight years, Origi made only a fairly modest 175 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions since his debut in early 2015-16, scoring 41 goals and registering 18 assists in that time.

His first appearance for the club came as a late substitute against Manchester United in the Premier League on Sept. 12, 2015, but he made little impact in the 16 minutes he spent on the pitch as the Reds stumbled to a 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford.

Aged just 20 at the time, Origi had to wait another couple of months to notch his first goal in a Liverpool shirt, which came as part of a hat trick in a 6-1 drubbing of Southampton in the League Cup quarterfinals.

His first Premier League goal for the club then came 11 days later in a 2-2 draw against West Brom at Anfield, as the Belgian scored a 96th-minute equalizer to salvage a point on home soil.

Overall, Origi averaged a goal roughly every 160 minutes in the Premier League for Liverpool (22 goals in 3,505 minutes spent on the pitch) and a goal every 200 minutes in the Champions League (four goals in 800 minutes) — though of course some were more memorable than others.


A slow start

Origi signed for Liverpool in a £10 million transfer as a 19-year-old having impressed over three years as a rookie with Lille and an eye-catching 2014 World Cup campaign with Belgium. However, after being loaned back to the French club for the 2014-15 season, he was named in L’Equipe’s worst XI of the season, meaning his eventual arrival at Anfield was rather inauspicious.

Still, he scored 21 goals in 76 games in all competitions over his first two seasons at the Reds — though only 37 of his total appearances came as a starter.

Frustrated by his lack of first-team action, Origi was allowed to join Bundesliga side Wolfsburg on loan at the start of the 2017-18 season, sealing the move on transfer deadline day after missing out on inclusion in two of Liverpool’s first three Premier League matchday squads. Origi scored six goals in 34 games (22 starts) for the Bundesliga side before returning to Anfield refreshed for the 2018-19 campaign — the year in which his legend truly began to burgeon.


Goal vs. Everton

It took until December 2018 for Origi to score his first goal since returning to Liverpool, but he chose the perfect match to end that drought — the Merseyside derby at Anfield. The Reds pipped rivals Everton by a single goal in a tense game that was ultimately settled in the 96th minute by a substitute who had entered the fray only 10 minutes prior.

Desperately chasing the win, the Reds slung a high ball into the Everton box in a move that seemed to fizzle out when Virgil van Dijk’s horribly sliced ​​volley went sailing high into the air. Fortunately, while the Dutchman reeled away in disgust at his own botched effort, Origi kept his eyes on the falling ball, and when Jordan Pickford made a hash of clearing it over his crossbar, it was the alert Belgian who pounced to tap home from point -blank range, earning himself a goal and Van Dijk an assist.

Origi went on to score six goals against Liverpool’s local rivals, more than against any other club.


Goal vs. Newcastle

Origi was at it again in May 2019 after another trademark late winner from the reserve striker saw Liverpool wrestle top spot from Manchester City in the pulsating race for the 2018-19 Premier League title. With the score locked at 2-2 since the 54th minute against Newcastle United at St James’ Park, the championship looked to be slipping away from the Reds.

That was until the 86th minute, when their super sub once again popped up to score with a late header and thus ensure that the title chase would go down to the final game of the season. It was one of 11 Premier League goals that Origi scored as a substitute, more than any other player in the club’s history.

City ultimately squeezed out Liverpool to win the league by a single point by beating Brighton & Hove Albion 4-1 on the last day, and the Reds finished runners-up despite amassing the third-highest Premier League points tally (97) ever recorded at the time.


Goals vs. Barcelona

While things were bubbling away nicely on the domestic front in 2018-19, Origi truly painted his masterpiece under the floodlights in the Champions League.

Liverpool’s grand European adventure looked to be over when they succumbed to a heavy 3-0 defeat against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the first leg of the semifinals. However, the second leg saw the Reds embark on one of the great comebacks of the modern era, which was all kicked off by Origi’s seventh-minute opener at Anfield — his first-ever Champions League goal on his debut in the competition.

Jurgen Klopp’s side turned the tie on his head in extraordinary fashion as Barca capitulated, with two further goals from second-half substitute Georginio Wijnaldum (scored roughly 120 seconds apart) drawing the aggregate score level at 3-3.

It was then left to Origi to finish the rout and settle the matter with 10 minutes left to play after a brilliant short-corner routine in cahoots with Trent Alexander-Arnold allowed the Belgian in to complete the comeback and firmly etch his name in the Liverpool pantheon.

Origi’s second goal against Barca was recently voted by Reds fans as the club’s greatest-ever goal, beating off stiff competition from the likes of Steven Gerrard (vs. Olympiakos and West Ham United), Kenny Dalglish (vs. Chelsea) and even Alan Kennedy’s famous goal against Real Madrid that won the club the 1981 European Cup.


Goal vs. Tottenham

As if his exploits against Barca weren’t enough, Origi added the icing to the cake and finished off his incredible 2018-19 with one last massive goal for Liverpool. It came in the Champions League final, where the Reds came up against Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

Klopp’s side went ahead with less than two minutes played when Mohamed Salah converted an early penalty, but they only put the result beyond doubt in the 87th minute, when Origi reacted quickly inside the area to finish things off in style.

The goal effectively saw Liverpool crowned European champions for the sixth time in their history (for the first time since 2005) and also procured Klopp’s first trophy as manager of the club.


More Origi magic

Origi’s heroics in the 2018-19 season saw him sign a new long-term contract with Liverpool, agreeing new terms on the back of a string of match-winning performances.

The 2019-20 campaign wasn’t quite as memorable from an individual standpoint, but there were still goals of note scored by the Belgian, including an excellent scissor kick in the last minute against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup — a game that Liverpool eventually won 5-4 on penalties after no less than 10 goals were scored in normal time.

The striker also scored two more goals against Everton in the Merseyside derby of December 2019 as his side powered to a dominating 5-2 victory at Goodison — a result that formed part of Liverpool’s club record 32-match unbeaten run in the league.

All in all, Origi scored six goals in 42 games in 2019-20, though he made just 21 starts in all competitions and spent a total of just 1,426 minutes on the pitch.

Again finding himself down the pecking order behind the likes of Salah and Sadio Mane, Origi was afforded even less game time in 2020-21 (536 minutes in total) and 2021-22 (598 mins) as he mustered just seven goals in 35 games in his final two seasons at Anfield.

But the cold, hard numbers don’t tell the true story. When it comes to Divock Origi and Liverpool, it was an absolutely wild ride that ended with him carving out his own unique place in the club’s history.

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