Alex Rogers describes Dejan Lovren’s meteoric rise form villain to hero. Two contrasting Europa League tournaments sum up the Croatian’s career this far.

It wasn’t so long ago that Dejan Lovren was one of the most hated men in Liverpool. And to be honest, it wasn’t unjustified. The Liverpool faithful had to endure game after game of Lovren inevitably giving away an easy goal or at the least making an unnecessary and avoidable mistake.

But two years on from when Lovren signed from Southampton in the summer of 2014, times are good. Some people even argue that the Croat could captain the side. Two years ago this concept would have been laughed off. Amazingly Lovren has fought for his place at Liverpool when a weaker player may have looked for the easy way out and looked for a new club.

Lovren was a colossus at Southampton, easily being one of the Saint’s best players and it seemed that he was a great replacement for Liverpool favourite Daniel Agger and very good business. When he made his move to Liverpool he demanded a hefty £20 million and had to live up to the high standards he had set himself.

However, early on in his LFC career it was clear to see that he was struggling to make an impact. His price seemed to be a burden and he was quickly dismissed and branded a flop, a shadow of what he used to be. What seemed to be the final nail in the coffin occurred in the Europa League last 32 second leg tie against Beşiktaş in 2015. The match had progressed to penalties, and Lovren sent Liverpool crashing out of Europe by blazing his penalty high and wide. Liverpool fans called for his head in the streets. It seemed this was the end of Dejan’s time at Liverpool.

Fast forward one year and Lovren was inducted into Liverpool folklore with his towering header against German giants Dortmund in the final minutes of the game to complete Liverpool’s fairytale come back from 3-1 down. I doubt I have to recount the details of that night. That night is no doubt ingrained in every Liverpool fans memory and Dejan Lovren was the maestro that conducted our happiness. Personally, he will always have a place in my heart for that.

His comeback from Liverpool villain surely would have been completed if Klopp’s men had been successful in the Europa League final. Even if that wasn’t meant to be, the manner in which Lovren has responded to his critics has been spectacular.

This season Lovren has redefined his Liverpool career, becoming a Liverpool favourite despite his tough beginnings at our club. Sakho and Lovren had formed an awesome partnership at the back making life hell for strikers.

After the Sakho controversy, veteran Kolo Toure stepped in for Mamadou and a beautiful relationship was formed with both players complimenting each other supremely well. Lovren has certainly had his ups and downs with us, but has definitely solidified his place in the first team. With the likes of Skrtel and Kolo leaving and Sakho’s future up in the air, it leaves Liverpool with 3 senior centre backs of Lovren, Gomez and the incoming Joel Matip.

No doubt we may sign a new centre back but whoever it is we do sign, is not guaranteed a starting place in the team, not with them having to compete with Dejan Lovren. Personally I think Lovren has the qualities to be a Liverpool great and I look forward to seeing him with us for a long time. What a man.

 Featured Image – This is Anfield