Exclusive interview: Origi ready to step up
Divock Origi says signing for Liverpool is one of the best decisions of his life
Divock Origi was always cut out for a career in football.
It runs in his blood.
His father Mike was a former striker for the Kenya national team, his three uncles - Austin Oduor, Gerald and Anthony - turned out in the Kenyan Premier League and his cousin Arnold is a goalkeeper for Lillestrom in the Norwegian Tippeligaen.
Naturally, his family had a significant influence on his football development during his early years.
"My family was very important to me when I grew up, because I looked up to my father, not just for what he could do on a football field, but also the discipline he taught me," the Liverpool striker, who was born in Belgium where his father used to play club football, told The New Paper in an exclusive phone interview recently.
"My father was a very important person to me.
"And my cousin as well. He was an experienced player, so I often speak to him."
Origi made the football world sit up and take notice of him at the 2014 World Cup.
I looked up to Steven Gerrard a lot. He has done a lot in football and he has inspired me.Liverpool's Divock Origi on his inspiration
Then just 19, the former Lille player was a shock inclusion in Belgium's World Cup squad, following Christian Benteke's injury.
In Belgium's second group match, against Russia, he came on as a 57th-minute substitute for Romelu Lukaku and fired in the winning goal two minutes from time for a 1-0 win.
Soon, Liverpool came knocking on his door.
He said: "It was a very exciting experience for me. People didn't expect me to be there with the team.
"I played well, and I was only 19. It is an honour to play in a World Cup.
"It was a special moment which I enjoyed very much.
"After the tournament, Liverpool signed me. It was ideal because I had a good feeling about Liverpool.
"The team were in Boston for their pre-season tour, and I went there to sign my contract. It was one of the best decisions of my life."
Now 21, he is proving to be a hit with the Kop.
His standing among the supporters soared during the later stages of last season, when he scored five goals in five games in April as he became manager Juergen Klopp's go-to striker for the big matches.
His most memorable game came against Klopp's former club Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of the Europa League quarter-finals at Anfield, where the Reds overturned a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 (5-4 on aggregate).
Said Origi, who scored a goal each in both legs: "That was really special.
"We were at home, and the atmosphere was very emotional.
"We won that game and it was very special to be a part of that."
This season has proven to be more challenging for Origi.
He has yet to start a Premier League game, with the manager preferring the front three of Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane.
Klopp, who in August said that Origi still lacked rhythm after pre-season, had urged him to be patient.
Origi said: "Every footballer wants to play regularly.
"I love football and, at the same time, I am in a group who are performing very well. I'm trying to make steps, I'm learning and I'm feeling stronger.
"When my manager needs me, whether it's one minute, five minutes or 10 minutes, I will always give everything.
"We have to help one another to be successful."
His patience could be paying off though.
Last Saturday, just several days after speaking to The New Paper, Origi staked his claim for a first-11 place in impressive fashion.
Replacing the injured Coutinho in the first half, he ended up scoring the crucial opener in the 75th minute against a stubborn Sunderland side to pave the way for a 2-0 win.
Yesterday morning (Singapore time), he started in the League Cup quarter-final against Leeds United and again scored the opening goal as the Reds won 2-0.
His strikes once again reminded the Liverpool faithful of his immense potential, but it could so easily have been Manchester United fans salivating at the sight of a rising star instead.
When he was 15, Origi astonishingly turned down the Old Trafford outfit's approach, insisting that Lille are the better club to hone his skills at.
Explaining what was going through his head then, he said: "For me, I always follow my heart. Lille were perfect for me, for my development and for my progress.
"They had a good sporting plan for me. Everything fitted for me to progress. It was a simple decision, choosing Lille."
Now enjoying his football at Liverpool, Origi would like club fans to see for themselves what it is about the club that makes them so special.
After a successful six days of meeting 20,000 fans in Singapore about a month ago, LFC World presented by Standard Chartered will head to IOI City Mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from Dec 13 to 18.
This second leg of the tour will include a mini museum, interactive football challenges, game stations, and the "Inside Anfield" experience, which uses virtual reality technology to take fans into the bowels of Liverpool's home ground.
Former Liverpool players Patrik Berger, Robbie Fowler and Vladimir Smicer will be in Malaysia to take part in a range of promotional events.
Said Origi: "We have millions of fans around the world. For them to have the experience of Anfield, that's very special.
"It's great of the club to do this, so everyone can see how special Liverpool and Anfield are.
"The 'Inside Anfield" experience is very close to the real thing.
"When I watched it, I got the same feeling I get just before a match."