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The rise, demise and rebirth of Deadly Divock Origi - The Red Debate
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The tale of Divock Origi…

Origi has had a somewhat tumultuous career to date. Once touted by Belgian captain Vincent Kompany as ‘a monster’ and one of the best young players in the world, he showed glimpses of genuine quality in his early spells at the Reds. Particularly impressive after a disastrous loan spell back at the club Liverpool signed him from, Lille. 

When he finally started getting games for Liverpool in the 2015/16 season, his raw talent was pretty evident. Most fans will remember his impressive performance against Dortmund in the Europa League in 2016, for instance.

Shit. I thought. We might have a genuine world-class talent on our hands here.

As the future looked bright, disaster strikes. In the Merseyside derby of all places. Funes Mori pillages him in the worst possible of ways (revenge is oh so fucking sweet).

Divock doesn’t recover his previous form and quickly finds himself short on game time and fitness. A loan move awaits – one that many fans thought would reap its rewards. It didn’t.

Since he signed for the Reds, his two loans spells saw him voted in the worst team of the year in Ligue 1 (playing for Lille), and almost relegated from the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg.

How had it gone so wrong?

Yet, here we are, on the back of a derby day winning goal. A timely reminder of a young talent (still only 23 years old) who could potentially offer a long-term solution to the Reds striking options (and short-term relief for a floundering Firmino).

The big question is – is the derby goal simply a single moment of magic to go in the history books, or is this the rebirth of Deadly Divock, like a phoenix from the ashes?

I asked fellow Red Debaters Tom and Ollie for their thoughts:

Tom:

The expectation was high when we signed him. He put in some memorable performances at the 2014 World Cup, just after we’d officially recruited him. He’d assisted the winner against South Korea & scored against Russia. He was 19 then. Jan Vertonghen described him as a ‘street footballer’, with coach Marc Wilmots calling on him despite strong attacking resources in that Belgium squad and merely 20 professional matches to his name. Wilmots, in fact, tried to calm expectations ahead of the knockout fixture against the USA, reminding us that he’s only 19 and saying that his body is not yet ready.

He then got into that Ligue 1 flop of the season team for the 14/15 season when we’d loaned him back to Lille; seemingly very harsh on what was a young lad.

Fast-forward a bit to 16/17 & Divock had put 4kg of muscle on since Klopp’s arrival at Anfield. Klopp told him to start playing “like a man” & that he did. I remember feeling genuinely devastated when he got that injury in 15/16 from the ludicrous Funes Mori tackle. He was playing brilliantly at the time, most certainly in the form of his career.

Amusingly, Chris actually spent his first Valentine’s Day with his now fiancée in my company rather than hers (sorry Nicola). We watched Liverpool see off Aston Villa 6-0 at Villa Park. Origi came on for Sturridge & we both put money on him to score next. He scored within 37 seconds of coming onto the pitch & got a Valentine’s snog from a member of the travelling support. He’d also put in one of the best number 9 performances I can recall when we played Dortmund away in the Europa League. He scored there too. Chris and I both said that Mats Hummels, arguably one of this generation’s finer centrebacks in his day, would probably have reflected on that match as having been one of his toughest duels to date. Origi scored in the home leg of the Quarter Final tie against Dortmund, too. At his best Divock’s strong, quick, direct, lively. There have been so many memorable Origi goals, despite what some may consider an underwhelming Liverpool career. Remember the hattrick he scored against Southampton at their place in the League cup? Remember that goal against Bournemouth from a tight angle when we wore the luminous yellow kit?

There was a time when Divock Origi was an absolute cash cow for our group of mates. We’ve got a friend whose nickname is, and always has been, Div. Div quickly became ‘Divock’ when we signed Origi & then evolved to Deadly Divock once we started regularly betting on Divock Origi to score whenever he was on the pitch. I honestly think we’ve cashed out on more than 50% of the bets we’ve put on him to either score first or next. Even Div’s dad calls him Divock these days. Rewind to April 1st 2017. About 8 of us are in the pub watching the derby. Origi scored in the 60th minute to make it 3-1 to Liverpool. All bar one of us had backed him to score next, it was that much of a ritual. The celebrations when he scored that goal will stay with me for life.

In what was my most memorable bet to date, I once put money on Origi to score first against Leeds in the cup & a separate bet on Woodburn to score last. Both events occurred!

But then to Sunday December 2nd 2018. At 0-0 on around 70 minutes, our good pal Divock (not Origi) messaged our group chat calling for Deadly Divock to come on. This has almost always been a customary call, half in jest in truth. On this occasion though, something about it felt right. He’d barely kicked a ball for Liverpool all season, appearing just once when we were almost buried away at Belgrade. For whatever reason though, I was in agreement that turning to Origi was a genuine option at this point.

Although he’d missed an absolute sitter 5 minutes before the goal, he looked lively when coming on. Klopp’s been praising him lately for his application in training & in seeing his humble response in the post-match interview I couldn’t help but feel a warmness for him. But that goal?! What the fuck?! It’s one of those where you have to hold tight on celebrating because of the madness of it all. I wasn’t sure it had been given for ages. When it was though, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much whilst watching scenes unfold on a football pitch. The manner in which he scored was both comical and perfect. Divock Origi, 96mins. File this next to his goal for 3-1 in 2017. A memory for life.

Alas, our mates didn’t “lump on Divock” on this occasion. Perhaps our reluctance to do so was a reflection of his apparent recent decline.

Martin Tyler labelled this one “Divock’s derby”. Whatever happens next for the big man, he’s written himself into Liverpool folklore. He’s written himself into cult hero status. His name will be sung by Kopites for years to come. Deadly Divock. Bloody love it.

Ollie:

Whatever anyone thinks of him, says of him, shouts at him, he has written himself into LFC folklore. Forever.

When we announced the signing of Divock, I was super excited having just seen him in the World Cup become the youngest ever Belgian scorer in the tournament.

Then he had the season at Lille.

In his first proper season, he initially gets a decent amount of game time without really impressing. Then he decides to become one of the best strikers in Europe.

Funes Mori happens. Shit again.

Since coming back he’s looked nowhere near the player he was, in fact, I thought his LFC career was done, but maybe, just maybe that goal might have earned him a start and then who knows.

Whatever happens next with Origi and LFC, we’ll always have that beautifully piss boiling goal.

I then asked if he has a future at the club.

Not swayed, Ollie said no. Tom, on the other hand, believes his future lies on the next game, Burnley on Wednesday night. If he plays, and produces, then yes. If not, then no. Fine margins.

Regardless, Divock has won the latest derby. Whether his future lies with the Reds or elsewhere, arise Deadly Divock once more.