French and European football is mourning the passing aged 73 of former France coach Gérard Houllier, a much-respected figure who also enjoyed a successful club career with Liverpool, Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain.
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French and European football is mourning the much-respected coach Gérard Houllier, who has passed away at the age of 73.
Houllier established his coaching credentials during a six-year stay at northern French club Nœux-les-Mines before taking charge of Lens in 1982. He moved on three years later to Paris Saint-Germain, with whom he won the French title in 1986.
Houllier became technical director of the French Football Federation (FFF) in the late 1980s, and served as an assistant to France coach Michel Platini before taking the national team's reins himself in 1992. He stood down the following year when France missed out on qualification for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, but remained as the FFF's technical director and assumed responsibility for the national youth teams, leading the Under-18s to the European title in 1996.
FFF president Noël Le Graët said: "It's with great emotion and sadness that I learnt Gérard Houllier has passed away. French football has lost one of their brightest technicians and the French FA one of their greatest servants. Gérard Houllier stood up at all levels in football: as an amateur player and coach, then at professional level as a coach of famous sides, and in the FA as a technical director and France coach.
"Beyond his universally acknowledged technical qualities, Gérard Houllier was a wonderful, open, warm, close, deeply human teacher. French football owes him a lot. I extend, on behalf of the federation, our heartfelt thoughts and condolences to his family and friends."
UEFA Cup glory with Liverpool
After contributing to France's 1998 World Cup triumph on home soil, he was appointed as joint manager of Liverpool alongside Roy Evans, his background as an English teacher helping him settle quickly on Merseyside. He then took on the job alone, winning eight trophies during his six years at the club – including in 2001 the UEFA Cup thanks to a remarkable 5-4 extra-time victory over Alavés in the final in Dortmund and the UEFA Super Cup that August. Following heart surgery the same year, he returned to coaching after a five-month absence.
"Everybody at the club is deeply saddened by the loss of Gérard," said Liverpool on the club's website. "[He] successfully re-established the club as a modern force."
Houllier left Liverpool in May 2004 and joined Lyon a year later, where he enjoyed two successful seasons, winning the Ligue 1 title in each of them. After leaving Lyon in 2007, he was reappointed as the FFF's technical director – a job he held for the next three years.
Houllier went back to England in September 2010 to become the new manager of Aston Villa, and then worked as a sporting director at New York Red Bulls. He returned to Lyon in 2016 in an advisory capacity.
Sterling service to UEFA and European football
A highly-valued expert in European coaching circles, Houllier worked for UEFA as a technical observer at numerous European club competition finals and major tournaments, providing important tactical insights for UEFA's technical reports and during coaching, coach education and football development events.
He was a member of the UEFA Technical Development Committee from 1992 to 1996, as well as the JIRA Panel from 2006 to 2011, and his vast experience led to him playing a key role within the European body as a technical instructor and coaching advisor.