Former France and Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier dies aged 73 after a long history of medical problems, almost 10 years on from quitting Aston Villa because of ill health
- Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has died at the age of 73
- The Frenchman had a history of medical issues, most notably a heart problem
- He was taken to hospital with chest pains during a Premier League game in 2001
- Houllier left his role as Aston Villa manager in 2011 due to health problems
- Reports claim Houllier ‘underwent aortic aneurysm surgery three weeks ago’
Former Liverpool and Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has died at the age of 73.
The Frenchman, who also managed Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon, had a long history of medical issues, most notably a heart problem, but the cause of his death remains unknown.
French radio station RMC sport and sports newspaper L’Equipe have reported Houllier died after having a heart operation in Paris.
According to L’Equipe journalist Vincent Duluc, Houllier ‘underwent aortic aneurysm surgery three weeks ago and was discharged from a Paris hospital and returned home on Sunday’.
He reportedly send a text message last weekend saying: ‘I am struggling, but I am going to come out of this.’
A fan favourite at Anfield, Houllier suffered a life-threatening vascular problem during a Premier League match against Leeds in 2001.
Former Liverpool and Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier, pictured in 2020, has died at the age of 73
Houllier, pictured with his wife Isabelle in 2016, had a long history of medical issues
Division 1 – 1985-86
FA Cup – 2000-01
League Cup – 2000-01, 2002-03
UEFA Cup – 2000-01
FA Charity Shield – 2001
UEFA Super Cup – 2001
Ligue 1 – 2005-06, 2006-07
Trophee des Champions – 2005, 2006
Under-18 European Championships, 1996
He was quickly rushed to hospital at half-time and later needed 11 hours of open-heart surgery after suffering a heart conditions known as ‘dissection of the aorta’.
Houllier arrived at Liverpool in the summer of 1998, initially as joint-manager with Roy Evans before taking sole charge just four months later.
He oversaw a major rebuilding of the first-team squad, signing the likes of Sami Hyypia, Dietmar Hamann and Vladimir Spicer, and changed the tactical philosophy to make them a force once again.
Houllier’s methods quickly brought rewards as the Reds won a unique treble in 2000-01 of the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and League Cup, as well as a third-place finish in the Premier League.
Liverpool paid tribute to their former manager, tweeting: ‘We are mourning the passing of our treble-winning manager, Gerard Houllier.
‘The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Gerard’s family and many friends.’
In 2002 Houllier was awarded the Legion d’Honneur – one of France’s top civil awards.
He was largely credited with laying the foundations for the national team’s dominance of world football following the establishment of the French academy system.
Players that came through the system helped France win the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.
And Houllier, a former English teacher, was also seconds from taking France to the 1994 World Cup before losing to Bulgaria at the Parc des Princes.
After an insignificant playing career in France’s lower leagues, Houllier began coaching in 1973, earning his first big job with Lens before taking over at Paris Saint-Germain.
Houllier celebrates with the UEFA Cup trophy after his Liverpool side beat Alaves in the final in Dortmund in May 2001
Four days before, on May 12, 2001, he lifted the FA Cup at The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff against Arsenal
He became France’s assistant coach in 1988 and then manager in 1992 but had a short, unsuccessful spell in charge and resigned after failing to take the team to the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
France have qualified for every World Cup since then, lifting the trophy in 1998 and 2018.
Houllier focused on youth coaching immediately after the World Cup debacle but rebuilt his reputation at Liverpool.
He also had success back in France with Lyon, leading them to back-to-back Ligue 1 titles.
He returned to management after taking a break in 2010 with Aston Villa but left the role the following year following further heart troubles.
Houllier’s wife, Isabelle, was instrumental in him quitting football – with her concerns about returning to the rigours of Premier League management leading to him stepping away from coaching in 2001. The couple had two sons.
In an interview with Sportsmail in 2011, Houllier said: ‘In a few weeks I will be 64. I just had my first summer off in years, and spent it with my wife, two sons and my grandchildren. Your health has to come before everything.’
He admitted he was extremely vulnerable to high blood pressure, admitting: ‘It seems my vessels, my arteries, are probably weaker than the ordinary man.
‘The heart is fine, strong, but the arteries are my weak point and stress can expose that weakness.’
Liverpool legend and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher, who played under Houllier at Anfield, tweeted: ‘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.’
Gary Lineker posted: ‘Oh no! Gerard Houllier has passed away. One of football’s smartest, warmest and loveliest people. #RIPGerard’.
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen tweeted: ‘Absolutely heartbroken to hear that my old boss, Gerard Houllier, has sadly passed away. A great manager and a genuinely caring man. #RIPBoss’.
More to follow.
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