Former Liverpool, Aston Villa and France manager Gerard Houliar has died at the age of 73.
Houliar spent six years at Anfield between 1998-2004, winning four major trophies in 2001, including the League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup.
After two years with Leon, Houlier returned to the Premier League in 2010, replacing Martin O’Neill as Erton Villa’s manager. He resigned from his role immediately after falling ill with heart problems at Villa Park in June of the following year.
Spent 38 years as manager of France, also taking charge of the French national team, Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain, where he won Ligue 1 in 1986 – the first of nine PSG titles.
In a statement on Monday, Liverpool said: “Liverpool FC is mourning the death of 73-year-old former manager Gerard Houlier.
The Frenchman, who has been in charge of the Reds for six seasons, led the club back to the Champions League in 2000-01, leading to the historic and unforgettable troubles of the League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup.
“Houliar – who recovered from life-saving heart surgery during a campaign to return to the dugout in 2001-02 – later guided Liverpool to victory in the second League Cup of his tenure in 2003 and left the following year to oversee 307 matches and successfully regain success. Founded the club as a modern force.
“Everyone at the club is deeply saddened by Gerard’s loss and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen paid tribute to Houliar on Twitter: “My old boss, Gerard Houlier, is sadly heartbroken to hear that he has passed away. A great manager and a real caring man.”
Jamie Keragher said he was “absolutely devastated” by the news of Houlier’s death. The former defender wrote on Twitter: “I was in touch with him to arrange for him to come to Liverpool just last month. He loved the man in the beats, he changed me as a person and a player and got the LFC winning trophy. RIP boss.”
Jamie Redknapp wrote on Instagram: “Incredibly sad news of Gerard Houlier’s death. A man who did a wonderful job for the Liverpool Football Club and the Football Club as a whole. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I will never miss that day. Forget that he has given me the greatest honor of my career as captain of Liverpool. RIP Gerard. “
Roy Evans, who had been a joint manager with Houlier for four months in 1998, had to say: “I heard incredibly sad news about the death of Gerard Houliar. A gentleman whom I respect very much at the Liverpool Football Club. P. “
Incredibly sad news of Gerard Houlier’s death. I have the most respect for what he has achieved at the Liverpool Football Club. Condolences to his family. Rip
– Roy Evans December 14, 2020
Very sad news about Gerard Houlier. He was a gentleman and a great man of football; I often enjoyed his company. His legacy in the LFC will forever be appreciated, respected and never forgotten. Marina and I offer our sincere condolences to her family. RIP Gerard. YNWA
– Sir Kenny Dalglish (😷) (@KennethDalglish) December 14, 2020
Sir Alex Ferguson said: “This morning the news came as a shock. Gerard Howlier was still a young man at the age of 73.
“Gerard became a really good friend during his time at Liverpool. We have been very good friends since he left and he has always been a great friend.
“He had an amazing knowledge of football knowledge that he had acquired during his extensive and varied career. We often enjoyed chatting when we saw each other at UEFA meetings or other events, it was always great company and I will miss him very much. He was a true gentleman.
“It’s a sad day for the football world and my thoughts are with her family at the time of her terrible sadness.”
Aston Villa added on Twitter: “Everyone at Aston Villa is deeply saddened by the death of our manager Gerard Houliar during the 2010/11 season. Our thoughts are with the Guard’s loved ones during these incredibly difficult times.”
Former Liverpool forward Ian Rush tweeted: “Disaster over Gerard Houlier’s demise. True gentleman of the game, always put someone else @LFC #RIP.
Said Stephen Warnock, who plays for Houlier at Liverpool and Aston Villa Sky Sports News: “He’s the guy who also had a lot of influence on Liverpool and the French national team. He was my manager at Liverpool and Aston Villa twice. That’s terrible news.
“He will be remembered by Liverpool fans for that incredible season, where he won the trio and won five trophies under Houliar in the calendar year. It was a very remarkable season.
“It was a strict discipline. When he first came he brought new standards to Liverpool. When he came to Arsenal he was just like Arsene Wenger and how he tried to implement different diets and the way of life of the players. You are Steven. Gerard, Danny Murphy, Jamie Kerager will have to talk about the impact on their careers and how they changed their set to reach that football approach and how they live their lives. It had a big impact on their careers.
“He had the discipline side that a school teacher has, and he was in and around that training area. The way he spoke was very strict. But strategically he was very intelligent and a huge student. He replaced Liverpool after Roy Evans and tried to bring a different style to Liverpool in a continental style and worked for that period.
“He made some big decisions at Liverpool but it was something he was never afraid to do. He was never afraid to make those decisions. It was a big deal at Liverpool at the time because there were big characters in your changing room but it wasn’t. Fearing the characters, he wasn’t afraid to do what he thought was right to move the football club forward. “
Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson tweeted: “A great man and a great manager. Liverpool will be forever grateful. Gerard Houliar – Repos npx”, while Steven Gerrard said on Instagram: “What this guy did for me and my career I never did. Don’t forget. “Peacefully boss.”
Just heard the sad news of Gerard Houlier’s passing … Football for Lano’s sad day .. Condolences to his family.🙏🏾
– John Barnesy (officialbarnesy) December 14, 2020
Manchester United also posted their sympathies on Twitter and there were more messages from across football.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Gerard Houlier, the former manager of Liverpool, who has tragically passed away at the age of 73.
Gerard was an innovative football thinker who made a big impact on English football. pic.twitter.com/WgujX96NWH
– Professional Footballers Association (PFA) December 14, 2020
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola added: “This is sad news. All of Manchester City extend their deepest condolences to their families.
“He was an incredible, handsome man when I met him at UEFA meetings or when we played against Lyon.
“I first met him when I was in Barcelona and we played in the UEFA Cup against Liverpool when he was the manager.
“It’s sad for all football.”
Naul Le Gratte, president of the French Football Federation, said: “French Football is losing its biggest technology and its most loyal servants to the French Federation.
“Guard Houliar has distinguished himself at all levels of the football scene: in the amateur world as the next coach after the amateur, in the professional world as the national technical director and coach of the French team as the coach of a prestigious club in the federation.
“Thanks to his unanimously recognized technical qualities, Gard Houliar was a wonderful teacher, an open-minded, cozy, accessible, deeply human being.
“French football is very much indebted to him. On behalf of the Federation, I address his family and loved ones for our heartfelt thoughts and deepest condolences.”
Analysis: Houliar re-established Liverpool at the top of the table
Gerard Houlier loved Liverpool and his role in bringing glory days to Anfield should not be overlooked. The 2001 Cup successes made it one of the most significant years in the club’s history as Liverpool won the League Cup, the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup, the Charity Shield and the European Super Cup.
Not only did Houliar give some wonderful memories to supporters, he helped restore Liverpool’s status among Europe’s elite.
For a pay generation of fans, the fall of the 1990s may seem like a reversal, but when Liverpool qualified for the Champions League in 2001, it took the club to the European Premier League for the first time since the 1985 Hazel disaster.
There was a certain determination in Houlier’s awkward appearance. His high standards of professionalism helped pave the way for greater success under Rafa Benitez, improving Melwood, modernizing behavior and tactics.
Liverpool’s second-place finish in the 2001-02 season was the club’s best in a decade and not good for almost two others. His passion for the club lasted a lifetime – beyond his departure in the summer of 2004.
Then there were roles including Aston Villa. He will also be remembered for his work at developing a special generation of French talent at Clarefontein, receiving the Legion d’Honner Award for his services to French football.
But it is for those memorable successes in 2001 – and the widespread joy they received – that British football will surely remember him best.
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