Divock Origi is only 24, but he’s already timeless.
The Belgian’s brace in the famous Anfield fightback against Barcelona had already earned him a place in Liverpool folklore. His strike against Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid — almost as close to the end of the game as Mohamed Salah’s opener had been to the start — wrapped up the Champions League final that he’d got his team to in the first place.
And, as if those two moments weren’t enough, there’s his part in the freak goal against Everton earlier in the season. Who would have thought, on that early December evening, that nodding in Virgil van Dijk’s horrible yet wonderful sliced shot would be one of the least memorable things that Origi would do all season?
Origi took just three shots in the 2018/19 Champions League campaign. All three of them were goals.
Like many in the team, Origi now has statue status, but there might never be a player who has done less for a club who deserves it more.
That’s not a knock on the young striker, who has suffered badly from injuries and, to add to his Liverpool legend status, turned down a move to Manchester United as a teenager. It’s utterly charming. That a player who was becoming another in a tiring list of football’s ‘what ifs’ can enter big games and score even bigger goals… it’s folklore in a nutshell.
If one was feeling poetic — and, after a cup final, who isn’t — one could extrapolate this out to a lot of the Liverpool set-up.
Most football players who will become world stars make their talent clear in their teenage years; van Dijk was still struggling to get into the Groningen first-team at 20. Captain Jordan Henderson is, even he must be aware, often mocked as a safe and uninteresting, albeit dependable, midfielder. But he’s been reborn since switching to a No.8 role in April.
Mohamed Salah was a Chelsea cast-off. Andrew Robertson was packing for university when he broke into the Queens Park team. Jürgen Klopp, having lost his last six cup finals, was on the verge of wearing the ‘loser’ tag forever more.
And we’re not done there. Roberto Firmino was written off as the cautionary tale of allowing spreadsheet scientists too much control in a football club. Both he, and the use of data in the recruitment process, have long since proven their doubters wrong.
After a season where Liverpool picked up 97 points and only lost once, it would have been a travesty for it to end empty-handed. Ninety-seven is the third-highest Premier League points total after all, and it may well stay that way for a long time. Going on league performance alone, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to say that Liverpool are one of the best teams in Europe. And now they have a trophy in evidence.
The final itself didn’t lend itself to hype and gushing and magic and romance. After Salah’s penalty — dubious enough in being awarded that it was still being talked about post-game — the match went dead for a long time. There were few stand-out performances. Even Alisson’s eight saves were disappointingly routine.
Even unexpected champions, as Claudio Ranieri will tell you, get cast aside in time. But it doesn’t matter. What Origi does for the rest of his career doesn’t matter. He, like all the players who will bring this sixth European Cup back to Anfield, will forever be Liverpool’s son.