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Former Liverpool and France national football team manager Gerard Houllier dies aged 73

Treble-winning Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has died aged 73 after a heart operation in Paris. The Frenchman also managed the French national team, Paris Saint Germain and Olympique Lyonnais throughout his career.

Treble-winning Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has died aged 73, following a heart operation in Paris.

Key points:
  • Former Liverpool players including Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen have taken to Twitter to honour their late coach
  • Houllier had a history of heart problems dating back to 2001
  • Houllier was manager when Australia's Harry Kewell joined Liverpool from Leeds United in 2003

The Frenchman also managed the French national team, Paris Saint Germain and Olympique Lyonnais and Aston Villa throughout his career.

Houllier had a long history of heart problems, dating back to when he was rushed to hospital at halftime of a Premier League game between Liverpool and Leeds United in 2001.

In 2001, Houllier's second full season in charge, Liverpool won a treble consisting of the the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup.

Houllier was credited with rebuilding Liverpool from Premier League underachievers into a cup-winning side.

"We are mourning the passing of our treble-winning manager, Gerard Houllier," Liverpool wrote on Twitter.

"The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Gerard's family and many friends. Rest in peace, Gerard Houllier 1947-2020."

Tributes flow from former stars

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, who scored two goals to win the 2001 FA Cup final against Arsenal when Houllier was in charge, was among many leading figures in English football to pay tribute to the Frenchman.

Owen wrote on Twitter: "Absolutely heartbroken to hear that my old boss, Gerard Houllier, has sadly passed away. A great manager and a genuinely caring man. #RIPBoss."

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Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher added: "Absolutely devastated by the news about Gerard Houllier, I was in touch with him only last month to arrange him coming to Liverpool."

"Loved that man to bits, he changed me as a person & as a player & got @LFC back winning trophies. RIP Boss."

Houllier was also the manager who brought Australian star Harry Kewell to the Reds from Leeds United for the 2003-2004 Premier League season.

Kewell would go on to become the first Australian to ever taste UEFA Champions League success, with Liverpool in 2005, but Houllier was no longer there, having been replaced as manager in 2004 by Spaniard Rafael Benitez.

A young Harry Kewell stands smiling next to Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier.A young Harry Kewell stands smiling next to Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier.
Harry Kewell and Gerard Houllier after Kewell signed for Liverpool from Leeds United.(Reuters/Action images: Darren Walsh)

Other former Liverpool stars to pay tribute included striker Djibril Cisse and goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

"Coach, today I am very sad," Cisse wrote.

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"Thanks to you, I was able to play in this wonderful @LFC. Many thanks for everything you have done for me Peace to your soul — thank you Mr Gerrard Houiller."

Success as a manager followed limited playing career

England great Gary Lineker described Houllier as "one of football's smartest, warmest and loveliest people", a theme that rang true in him becoming a prominent and successful manager despite a limited playing career in France's lower leagues.

Houllier began coaching in 1973, earning his first big job with Lens before taking over at PSG.

He became France's assistant coach in 1988 and then manager in 1992 but had a short, unsuccessful spell in charge.

He resigned after failing to take the team to the 1994 World Cup in the United States following shock home defeats to Israel and Bulgaria, losing the latter game, which they only needed to draw to qualify, 2-1 after a goal in added time.

Houllier described the defeat by Bulgaria as "the most catastrophic scenario imaginable" and focused on youth coaching immediately after the debacle.

He rebuilt his reputation at Liverpool, however, joining as co-manager with Roy Evans in 1998 before assuming full responsibility and leading the team to a treble of the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001.

He also had success back in France with Lyon, leading them to back-to-back Ligue 1 titles.

After taking a sabbatical he returned to management in 2010 with Villa but left the role less than a year later following further heart troubles.

Reuters

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