Gerard Houllier: Former Liverpool and Aston Villa manager dies aged 73

Former Liverpool, Aston Villa and France manager Gerard Houllier has died aged 73.

Houllier spent six years at Anfield between 1998-2004, winning four major trophies including the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001.

After two years with Lyon, Houllier returned to the Premier League in 2010, replacing Martin O’Neill as manager of Aston Villa. He stepped down from his role at Villa Park in June the following year, shortly after falling ill with heart problems.

The Frenchman spent 38 years as a manager, also taking charge of the France national team, Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain, where he won Ligue 1 in 1986 – the first of PSG’s nine titles.

Analysis: Houllier restored Liverpool to the top table

Gerard Houllier adored Liverpool and his role in bringing glory days back to Anfield should not be overlooked. The cup successes of 2001 made it one of the more remarkable years in the club’s history as Liverpool won the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Cup, Charity Shield and European Super Cup.

Houllier not only gave supporters some wonderful memories, he helped restore Liverpool’s status among Europe’s elite.

For a generation of fans, the fallow period in the 1990s now feels like a blip but when Liverpool qualified for the Champions League in 2001 it took the club back into Europe’s premier club competition for the first time since the Heysel disaster of 1985.

Houllier’s avuncular appearance masked a steely determination. His high standards of professionalism helped to pave the way for the greater successes that were to follow under Rafa Benitez, making improvements at Melwood, modernising behaviour and tactics.

Liverpool’s second-place finish in the 2001/02 season was the club’s best in over a decade and would not be bettered for almost another two. His passion for the club lasted for the rest of his life – well beyond his departure in the summer of 2004.

There were later roles, including at Aston Villa. He will be remembered too for his work in developing a special generation of French talent at Clairefontaine, even being awarded the Legion d’honneur for his services to French football.

But it is for those memorable successes in 2001 – and the wide-eyed joy with which he greeted them – that British football will surely remember him best.

Source: www.skysports.com

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