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Why Divock Origi Opted To Play For Belgium Instead Of Harambee Stars

In Kenyan football, the role played by the Origi family will remain imprinted in history books for many years to come. The family, which resides in Kakamega has produced the best footballers like brothers Mike Okoth and Austin Odour and their sons Divock Origi and Arnold Origi respectively.

Mike Okoth was the first Kenyan to play professional football in Europe, playing for Belgian giants Genk. He featured for the national football team between 1987 and 2004 as a striker.

However, Okoth began his career between the sticks in high school and for local side Shabana based in Kisii. He then signed for Kenya Breweries (now Tusker FC) and switched to the attacking position.

During Okoth’s stint, Harambee Stars were a force to reckon with in Africa as they qualified for African Cup of Nations severally in 1990, 1992 and 2004. Okoth currently resides in Belgium.

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The retired Harambee stars icon married Linda Adhiambo and were blessed with 3 children: two daughters and a son, Divock Origi, who currently plays for Liverpool.

Origi was born in Belgium on 18th April, 1995, being the second born in the family. As a young man, Origi was inspired by his father’s hard work and commitment to keep fit.

A past photo of Origi’s father Mike Okoth. [Photo|Courtesy]

And being the only son, Divock was going to fit his father’s boots. He established himself as a promising versatile striker when he featured for Belgium’s youthful squads.

For the club level, Origi played for his father’s former side Genk though for the junior side. He later own signed a contract with French side Lille in 2013.

Kenya Pursues Origi 

As Origi had an impressive career for Lille, Football Kenya Federation had keen interests in having Origi play for Kenya, saying that the country had a shortage of strikers.

This is a very promising lad. We are all aware that the main problem with the national team, and even the local league is the striking department,” a former FKF official told goal.com in 2013.

However, Kenya was unsuccessful in this pursuit and instead Origi opted to play for Belgium, where he secured a ticket to the 2014 World Cup and even scored in a 1-0 victory against Russia.

Origi’s father talks about his choice 

In a past interview with an online segment, Mike Okoth revealed that it would be difficult for Origi to play for Kenya because he had already established his career in Belgium. Okoth also talked of the ‘obvious challenges’ that Kenyan players face.

Divock was born and raised here (in Belgium) so playing for the Kenyan national team would be difficult. You are aware of the challenges in Africa. He had also played for the national youth teams in Belgium,” said Okoth.

Asked whether he advised Origi to switch nationalities, Okoth insisted that he wanted the best football career for his son.

As a father you want the best life for your son. I do not mean that the standards of life in Kenya are low, but football-wise, it was better for him to play for Belgium,” he added.

Origi’s Europe Career 

In 2014, Origi was signed by Liverpool from Lille at a cost of £ 10 million. He was mostly used as a substitute and had loan spells back to his former club Lille and Wolfsburg (2017).

In the 2018/19 career Origi was influential in helping Liverpool win the UEFA Champions League as he scored a brace against Barcelona in the semifinals and scored in the finals against Tottenham Hotspurs. In the 2019/20 season, he was also part of the Liverpool squad that won the English Premier League.