Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has died at the age of 73.
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.
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.”
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Houllier made his managerial name with Lens and PSG in the 1980s before taking over the French national side in 1992.
However, after Les Bleus failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals – with Houllier blaming a mistake from winger David Ginola for their exit – he resigned from the role.
In 1998, he moved to England and took charge of Liverpool as joint manager alongside Roy Evans.
Evans resigned three months later and Houllier took sole charge, rebuilding the Reds and leading them to the unprecedented treble in the 2000-01 season.
In October 2001, he had open heart surgery after suffering from chest pains during a home match against Leeds, but returned to the dugout at Anfield and remained there for another three years before leaving in May 2004.
After leaving Liverpool, he led Lyon to two French titles before joining the French Football Federation in 2007, but he was enticed back into management by Villa in September 2010, signing a three-year deal.
But the following April Houllier was admitted to hospital with chest pains and Gary McAllister stepped in to help steer Villa away from relegation trouble.
He stepped down from the role at the end of the 2010-11 season with concerns that a return to the dugout could cause further health issues.
He has since held the head of football role at Red Bull, and in November became technical director of women’s football clubs Lyon and OL Reign.
|Houllier’s record at Liverpool (games as sole manager only)|
Treble winners pay tribute
Many of Liverpool’s treble-winning squad from 2000-01 were quick to pay tribute to their former boss.
Ex-Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp wrote on Instagram: “Incredibly sad news to hear of the passing of Gerard Houllier. A man that did an amazing job for Liverpool football club and for football as a whole. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I will never forget the day he gave me the Liverpool captaincy, the greatest honour of my career.”
Dietmar Hamann said: “Devastated to hear the news that our former manager Gerard Houllier passed away. Great manager and an even better man. You’ll never walk alone Gerard.”
Phil Thompson, Houllier’s assistant manager at Liverpool, said he was “absolutely devastated and heartbroken”.
Football world pays tribute
The rest of the football world also paid tribute to Houllier, with many Premier League teams tweeting their condolences, including Tottenham, West Ham, Manchester United and Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton.
Current and former Liverpool players also paid tribute, with Djibril Cisse, tweeting: “Today I am very sad. Thanks to you, I was able to play in this wonderful @LFC. Many thanks for everything you have done for me.”
Neil Mellor said: “Thank you for believing in me & giving me my professional debut.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland, who was signed by Houllier in 2001, said: “I’ve always been a Liverpool fan, my first game was when I was seven in 1988 and then he made my dreams come true by signing me.
“He was a special man, it wasn’t just about football, it was about a human being too. His door was always open. he had this warm feeling about him which, when you were talking to him, made you feel a million dollars. He will be really sadly missed.
“He changed the dynamics at Liverpool, he changed it all, and the way they went forward.
“His team talks were so special, especially when you needed to get a result in Champions League nights and huge Premier League games. He had you on the edge of your seat listening to every word.
“He was so calm. Some managers rant and rave but he always used to take a couple of minutes, he always used to compose himself before he came into the changing room. As soon as he came in, the dressing room went quiet and everyone was hanging onto his words.
“He had a calmness about him, if you were losing he would say he backed you and told you to trust each other. You had to be there to appreciate how special his team talks were and nine of 10 times they worked.”
Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish tweeted: “Very sad news about Gerard Houllier. He was a gentleman and a great footballing person; I enjoyed his company many times. His legacy at LFC will forever be appreciated, respected and never forgotten.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Houllier’s former co-manager Roy Evans said: “The passing of Gerard Houllier is a real sad day for all Liverpool fans.
On the difficulty of trying to work as joint managers he added: “It was more or less impossible, you have got two people trying to do one job. Football is all about opinions and different things and that is why I walked away at the time.
“But I never held that against Gerard, he came to do a job and he did a good one.
“The last time I saw him was about 12 months ago in Ireland and we had a good chat. It is another Liverpool legend who has passed away.”
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: “The news has come as a total shock this morning. Gerard Houllier was still a young man at the age of 73.
“Gerard became a really good friend during his time at Liverpool. We remained great friends after he left and he was always a great ally to have.
“He had fantastic football knowledge which he gained during his extensive and varied career. When we saw each other at Uefa meetings or other events, we would often enjoy a chat, he was always great company and I will miss him dearly. He was a true gentleman.
“It is a sad day for the football world and my thoughts are with his family at this desperately sad time.”
Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of PSG – who won their first French title in 1986 under Houllier – said the club felt “profound sadness”.
Former England full-back Ashley Young, now at Inter Milan, played under Houllier at Aston Villa.