- LocationKinshasa, DR Congo
- Squad Number9
Brendan Rodgers moved to boost his squad’s firepower with the signing of proven Barclays Premier League goalscorer Christian Benteke in July 2015.
The Belgium international arrived at Anfield with a track record of hitting the net in the English top flight, cultivated over the course of three seasons following a move from Genk to Aston Villa.
But his journey to becoming one of Europe’s most-feared strikers did not, in fact, begin on the continent.
Benteke was born in the African capital city of Kinshasa in Zaire – now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo – in December 1990.
However, his family soon sought a new start and moved over to Belgium, the country their son would call home, when Christian was just a child.
The striker’s footballing education subsequently began with a lengthy spell at JS Pierreuse in Liege before the city’s top club, Standard, came calling.
Benteke spent two years in Standard’s academy prior to joining Genk, who handed him his professional debut in the 2007-08 season.
He then made a return to Standard in January 2009 before enjoying successful season-long loan spells with both Kortrijk and Mechelen in 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively.
It was during the latter campaign that the forward made his debut for the Belgium senior national team, running out in a friendly meeting with Bulgaria.
Despite international recognition and a 20-goal haul over two loan spells, Benteke was allowed to leave Liege in order to join up with Genk yet again in the summer of 2011.
Standard’s loss proved to be their Belgian Pro League rival’s gain, though, as Benteke went on to score 16 goals in 32 appearances in the top flight in his first full season back at the Cristal Arena.
Unfortunately for Genk, four goals in eight outings at the start of the next campaign confirmed the striker’s pedigree to other European clubs waiting in the wings – and Aston Villa pounced in late August 2012.
It didn’t take long for the Villans’ summer acquisition to announce his arrival, as he notched against Swansea City just 17 minutes into a debut appearance in England.
The Belgian went on to score 23 goals in all competitions that season while bullying defences up and down the country.
Benteke’s form dipped somewhat in 2013-14 as he suffered niggling injuries and his World Cup dream was cruelly ended by an Achilles rupture sustained in April.
He returned to his best form the next year, though, playing a crucial role in Villa’s journey to the FA Cup final – even scoring against Liverpool in the semi at Wembley.
Remarkably, that brought the striker’s tally of goals against Liverpool to five in just six appearances.
But from now on he will be aiming to add to his career haul with the Reds, rather than against them.