Olympique Lyonnais coach Gérard Houllier has announced he will leave the French champions at the end of the Ligue 1 season this weekend, despite having a year remaining on his contract at the Stade de Gerland.
Released from contract
The 59-year-old will quit the Rhone club after two campaigns at the helm in which he led the team to two league championships and two French Super Cup wins. "I need a break, full stop," Houllier said. "I will not go to another club in France and initially not to a foreign club. I am first going to take a holiday. I need a rest." A Lyon statement added: "Gérard Houllier asked to be released from the last season of his contract. That request has been granted by the president [Jean-Michel Aulas]."
Record points haul
The former France coach and Liverpool FC manager took over from Paul Le Guen in August 2005, when Lyon had already claimed four successive French titles – three under Le Guen, the first with Jacques Santini as boss. He departs with similarly impressive statistics, particularly as last term his side became the first team since the advent of professionalism in French football, in 1932, to register 80 points or more for a single campaign, reaching 84. This time around, they had retained their crown by 22 April, with five games to play.
However, under Houllier, who signed his current contract last summer, Lyon's European dreams never quite came to fruition, with his charges exiting the UEFA Champions League at the quarter-final and first knockout round stages. Never a professional footballer himself, Houllier climbed the coaching ladder via US Noeux-les-Mines, RC Lens and Paris Saint-Germain FC, then assisted France coach Michel Platini before landing the top job in 1992. Subsequently appointed the French Football Federation's technical director, he returned to club management with Liverpool, the highlight of his English experience coming with a UEFA Cup, FA Cup and English League Cup treble in 2001.
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