Divock Origi will give everything to maximise his potential during what he hopes will be the 'prime years' of his career he has committed to Liverpool FC by signing a new long-term contract.
The striker, a hero of the Reds’ journey to Champions League glory last month, put pen to paper on an extended deal with the club at Melwood on Wednesday.
The fresh agreement prolongs a spell on Merseyside that started in the summer of 2014 and has included 28 goals in 98 appearances by the Belgium international.
Shortly after signing his new contract, Origi told Liverpoolfc.com why Liverpool remains the place for him, reflected on the magnitude of what unfolded in Madrid, and explained why he is convinced more success can follow.
Watch his full interview on LFCTV GO or read on for a transcript…
Congratulations on signing your new contract – is this the perfect way to start a new season?
Yeah, I’m very happy to be able to sign this contract and it gives you a boost at the beginning of the season, as well as the end of the season last year. So I’m very happy.
Fans have been eagerly waiting for this news over the summer. Was it a straightforward decision to make for you?
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. 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.
Being part of the European champions is appealing of course, but what is it specifically about this set-up that makes players want to join and stay here?
It’s a combination of so many factors. 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.
You’re still just 24 and you’ll obviously want to improve over the course of this deal. So where and how can you get better in the coming seasons?
Just to keep making steps and exploiting the talent and potential I have, keep serving the team. I hope as a team as well we can continue to build on what we achieved already. For me, every day to come here is exciting. It’s exciting times.
After his first game in charge in 2015, the manager predicted he would have a lot of fun with you. Today he has described you as a ‘wonderful player’. Tell us about your relationship with Jürgen…
We have a good relationship. Everyone knows how good a coach he is, he is a big coach – and before that he is a good man. He pushes us as a team and, for me, it’s important to have somebody who knows football and knows how to speak with players and make them perform to their best. I’ve made steps under him and that shows how the last couple of years have been.
He is someone who rewards commitment and loyalty – did the knowledge of that help you stay motivated last season? You could always hope a chance would come…
Definitely. It was a challenging season but I always believed if I continued to do the right things and had fun on the pitch, it would come by itself. In the end, I got the chance and I was happy to be able to contribute in the right way. It was a very special season.
We have to talk about Madrid. Has everything that happened that night and the following day sunk in yet? Does it feel real?
It was a very special night. Words can’t describe the feeling I personally had that night and what we experienced coming back for the parade. I’ve experienced special moments and I know sometimes it takes time to really fully realise what you did. What we do know is that we have a good group, a young group, good staff and the fans are behind us – everything is there to have a successful run. As a player, that’s what I’m focused on now: to be able to help the team as much as possible to perform to their best, so that we can achieve more success.
That clinching goal in the final few minutes of a European Cup final, right in front of your own fans, is it possible to describe the emotions of that?
It was emotional, it was very emotional. It was a dream for me as a young kid to play on that stage. Then obviously you get the chance and to be able to score – and what that goal meant for the team – was a very special moment. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Liverpool fans have been poring over all the pictures and videos ever since – did you do the same? Can you have a sense of how happy you have made people?
It’s difficult to get a full sense but I get an idea and I know how much it means. For me personally it meant a lot, and for the city, the club and for everyone it meant so much. I’m very happy when I see that it meant a lot to the supporters. It motivates you also as a player, it puts things in perspective and makes you hungrier to go for the next ones.
Many supporters have been getting tattoos to mark the win, there’s even a few tattoos of you. How surreal a feeling is that when you see them?
I try to sometimes block off social media and focus on my own thing but people mentioned there are a couple of Origi tattoos – maybe I should do a shoutout! I appreciate the love.
I know you said the parade was beyond anything you imagined, that it was something you’d expect for a national team. What did it mean to you and the players?
It gave us an opportunity to connect to the city. That was something very special. The city of Liverpool has a lot of history, even outside football, and being able to go throughout the whole city and seeing [people] from young to old, connecting with people, looking in their eyes, celebrating with them and having fun, was something very, very, very special. I’m very grateful for that.
Were your ears ringing for a while afterwards?
Yeah! We didn’t have much sleep in 48 hours. It was very loud, we had a lot of fun – a lot of dancing, music and singing. It was very good.
Looking to the new season then, there seems to be a mood of intent here already in pre-season that everybody wants to lift silverware again…
Definitely. What I tried to do during my vacation was to reset, to enjoy the moment and then come back again stronger. We know this season we have big goals and we just have to focus step by step, game by game, whatever happens. There are difficult moments and good moments in the season but now we’ve got more experience and I hope that will help us to achieve more.
With a few of the attacking players coming back a little later, there’s a chance for you to really stake a claim in pre-season isn’t there?
Some people had a tournament and they need some vacation, but, for me personally, whenever I have fun on the pitch everything else comes. So I just try to focus on that, to be as fit as possible, having fun and expressing myself and helping the team. The rest will unfold by itself.
Finally, then, what do you hope to achieve over the course of this new deal?
To keep progressing and trying to maximise the potential and talent I have each and every day. 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.
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