FORMER LIVERPOOL and France national team manager Gerard Houllier has passed away aged 73.
Houllier is best remembered on Merseyside for ushering in a new era of success at the club following a fallow period in Liverpool’s history.
The Reds won five trophies under the Frenchman with the undoubted highlight coming during the 2000/01 campaign when Liverpool celebrated a famous treble of the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup.
Yet arguably Houllier’s most significant contribution to the club was to help Liverpool qualify for the Champions League on a consistent basis.
Devastating news about Gerard Houllier. He was a brilliant manager and a brilliant man.
He loved Liverpool as a club and a city and we loved him right back. He gave us pride and trophies and that is all you can ask of any manager. He rightfully sits as one of our greats. pic.twitter.com/voEObni14n
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) December 14, 2020
Having re-established Liverpool’s place at the top table of European football, Houllier laid much of the groundwork for his successor Rafa Benitez, who went on to win the Champions League in his first season at the club with a squad largely inherited from the Frenchman.
Prior to his time at Liverpool, Houllier managed the French national team and also coached a French Under-18 side to victory at the 1996 UEFA European Under-18 Championship, nurturing the talents of players like Thierry Henry along the way.
A title winner as manager of Paris Saint Germain in the 1980s, Houllier also went on to enjoy further success with Lyon, winning back-to-back Ligue 1 titles in 2005-06 and 2006-07 as well as two Trophée des Champions.
Absolutely devastated to hear the sad news about Gerard Houllier this morning my thoughts and prayers are with all his family and friends 🙏 RIP pic.twitter.com/l1gKT5kdVH
— Neil Ruddock (@RealRazor) December 14, 2020
Houllier briefly returned to the Premier League as manager of Aston Villa before stepping down due to ill health. During his time at Liverpool, he also underwent heart surgery after falling ill in a game.
Tributes have flooded in for the Frenchman following the news of his sad passing.
Michael Owen, who was a key part of that treble-winning Liverpool team, led the tributes.
“Absolutely heartbroken to hear that my old boss, Gérard Houllier, has sadly passed away. A great manager and a genuinely caring man.”
Devastating news about Gerard Houllier. Fine coach and manager but above all a wonderful, very caring person, the best company, could talk for hours about anything, football, travel, family, politics, anything. Deepest condolences to Gerard’s family and his many friends. RIP.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) December 14, 2020
Those sentiments were echoed by fellow Liverpool legend Ian Rush, who wrote: “Devastated at the passing of Gérard Houllier. A true gentleman of the game, always put others first.”
Gary Lineker, meanwhile, paid tribute to Houllier as “One of football’s smartest, warmest and loveliest people.”