Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has died at the age of 73 the Premier League side reported on Monday.
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.
RMC sport and sports daily L’Equipe said Houllier, who also coached the French national team Paris St Germain, Olympique Lyonnais where he won two Ligue 1 titles and Aston Villa, died after having a heart operation in Paris.
“We are mourning the passing of our treble-winning manager, Gerard Houllier,” Liverpool said on Twitter.
“The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Gerard’s family and many friends. Rest in peace, Gerard Houllier 1947-2020.”
Houllier had a long history of heart problems, dating back to when he was rushed to hospital at halftime of a Premier League game between Liverpool and Leeds United in 2001.
His last managerial job was at Aston Villa, but he left in 2011 after nine months, following heart problems.
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.”
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 St Germain.
He became France’s assistant coach in 1988 and then manager in 1992 but had a short, unsuccessful spell in charge.
He resigned after failing to take the team to the 1994 World Cup in the United States following shock home defeats by Israel and Bulgaria, losing the latter game, which they only needed to draw to qualify, 2-1 after a goal in added time.
Houllier described the defeat by Bulgaria as “the most catastrophic scenario imaginable” and focused on youth coaching immediately after the debacle
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 April 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 FFF 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.
The world of football was quick to pay tribute to Houllier, with many Premier League teams tweeting their condolences, including Tottenham, West Ham, Manchester United and Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton.
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, who scored two goals to win the 2001 FA Cup final against Arsenal when Houllier was in charge, was among many leading figures in English football to pay tribute to the Frenchman.
Owen wrote on Twitter: “Absolutely heartbroken to hear that my old boss, Gerard Houllier, has sadly passed away. A great manager and a genuinely caring man. #RIPBoss”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher added: “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.”
Former England full-back Ashley Young, now at Inter Milan, played under Houllier at Aston Villa.