Former Liverpool and PSG coach Gerard Houllier has died aged 73. The Frenchman, who guided Liverpool to a treble in 2001, passed away overnight at the weekend after undergoing heart surgery.
Houllier won Ligue 1 titles in France with Paris-Saint Germain and Lyon and also was in charge of the French national team from 1992 to 1993, when they failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States.
He played an important role in shaping Liverpool after the club that had dominated English football in the 1970s and 1980s lost their way. He became joint team manager with Roy Evans at Anfield in 1998, but their relationship soon became strained and long-term club servant Evans resigned later that year to leave the Frenchman in sole charge.
He masterminded one of the greatest single seasons in the club’s illustrious history in 2000/01, winning three cups. Although he was unable to lead them to the Premier League title — that had to wait until this year under German coach Jurgen Klopp — Houllier was loved by the Anfield club’s supporters.
“We are mourning the passing of our treble-winning manager, Gerard Houllier,” Liverpool tweeted.
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“The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Gerard’s family and many friends. Rest in peace, Gerard Houllier 1947-2020.”
His career was blighted by health problems and he had to take a break during his time at Liverpool to recover from heart issues. In October 2001, Houllier fell ill at half-time during Liverpool’s match against Leeds and required life-saving heart surgery. He returned after five months as Liverpool finished second in the league to Arsenal.
Houllier guided Liverpool to a second League Cup triumph of his tenure in 2003 but left the following year after overseeing 307 matches and successfully re-establishing the club as a modern force.
In 2005 Liverpool, now with Rafael Benitez as manager, became champions of Europe for the fifth time in their history, inspired by Steven Gerrard, whose career was launched by Houllier.
Many of Liverpool’s treble-winning squad paid tribute to their former boss.
Gerrard, now manager of Rangers, wrote on Instagram: “Devastated to hear the news my former manager Gerard Houllier has passed away. I will never forget what this man did for me and my career. Rest in peace Boss.”
Former Liverpool and England forward Michael Owen tweeted that he was heartbroken, describing Houllier as a “great manager and a genuinely caring man”.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher tweeted: “Loved that man to bits, he changed me as a person & as a player & got @LFC back winning trophies. RIP Boss.”