LONDON. — Former Liverpool and Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has passed away at the age of 73, sadly leaving behind his wife, sons and grandchildren.
The Frenchman managed the Reds from 1998-2004 and led them to five major trophies, including the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup treble in 2000-01.
Prior to Liverpool, Houllier managed Lens, Paris St-Germain and the French national team, and after leaving the Reds won two Ligue 1 titles at Lyon.
His last managerial job was at Aston Villa, but he left in 2011 after nine months, following heart problems.
Reports in France yesterday morning confirmed the former Lyon manager had died just days after he underwent a heart operation.
The Frenchman rose to prominence in the English Premier League when he took charge of Liverpool in 1998 and he stayed at Anfield for six years, winning five trophies in a trophy-laden stint.
Houllier suffered from bad health during his time on Merseyside, with his assistant Phil Thompson having to take charge of the side for half a season in 2001 after the Frenchman was diagnosed with a heart condition.
Houllier was forced into emergency surgery and the condition troubled him throughout the remainder of his career, despite making a return to football.
After departing Liverpool in 2004, Houllier joined Lyon a year later but he felt he had unfinished business in England and made a surprise return to the Premier League with Aston Villa in 2010.
However, Houllier lasted just a season at Villa Park after he fell ill towards the end of his first campaign in Birmingham and he subsequently stepped down due to his poor health.
Houllier was part of a new wave of foreign managers that joined the English Premier League in the late 1990s and his methods were considered revolutionary at the time, with himself and Arsene Wenger helping to shape English football’s new look.
The football world is mourning and tributes were flooding in on social media.
In a statement, Liverpool said they were “deeply saddened” by Houllier’s death.
“We are mourning the passing of our treble-winning manager, Gerard Houllier,” the club said.
“The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Gerard’s family and many friends.”
Aston Villa said: “All at Aston Villa are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Gerard Houllier, our manager during the 2010/11 season.
“Our thoughts are with Gerard’s loved ones at this incredibly difficult time.”
“Shut the door to this 2020, please! RIP Gérard Houllier,” tweeted Guillem Balague.
“He was the first manager to open for me the doors to the other side, there where managers and players are themselves and where you discover how everything works.
“Have an eternal rest, my friend.”
Liverpool hero Danny Murphy said on talkSPORT: “He put in place what was needed for Liverpool to be where they are now.
“I can’t even put into words the impact he made on my career. I’m the person I am now because of him.”
Gary Lineker wrote: “Oh no! Gerard Houllier has passed away. One of football’s smartest, warmest and loveliest people.”
Former Villa striker Darren Bent said: “R.I.P Boss , You will be missed , Could not speak highly enough of you, not just as a manager but as a person as well. Taught me to see things Differently. Condolences to the Houllier family.”
Everton football club added: “Our thoughts are with the family of former France, Liverpool, PSG and Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier, as well as those close to him on Merseyside. RIP Gerard.”
Former Liverpool striker Ian Rush said: “Devastated at the passing of Gérard Houllier. A true gentleman of the game, always put others first.”
And Liverpool’s very own first-team throw in coach had his say, tweeting: “Sad news @LFC ex-manager Gerard Houllier past away ! RIP !”
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa has said the death of Houllier is “very hurtful news”.
Speaking prior to his club’s Premier League match against Newcastle tomorrow Bielsa added: “He’s a man who left his mark on football. “Every time that someone who has contributed so much to football leaves us it’s always a feeling of sadness.”
Houllier opened up on his time at Liverpool earlier this year, and admitted that he had some regrets despite his treble winning campaign.
“Yeah, but we would have liked to win the title on top of that!” Houllier said.
“We finished third that year and second the following season. Liverpool’s DNA is about silverware. About winning things. Winning the League Cup (in 2001) gave confidence to get to the other finals.
“Winning the UEFA Cup was huge because it was a long time since Liverpool had won a cup in Europe. That was important. You could see the pride of the people in the street.
“We, the team, the club, the people, the players, the staff . . . we put Liverpool back on the European map. That’s what it meant.”
The former school teacher was credited with dragging Liverpool into the 21st century with regards to their approach to training and preparation, bringing in more modern techniques that moved the Reds to the cutting edge of the game. — Metro.