Gerard Houllier OBE

Gerard Houllier OBE joined Salzburg on June 24, 2012 as global sports director.

Prior to Salzburg, Houllier was the manager of Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League.

Born in Therouanne, France, Gerard played for Le Tourquet from 1973 and went on to become Youth Coach for Arras. Prior to becoming a professional coach, Gerard went to Lille University taking a degree in English - he finished his degree whilst teaching in various schools. In 1969, as part of his degree, he chose to spend a year in Liverpool as an Assistant teacher at Alsop Comprehensive School. On completing his course he went on to become a lecturer in a high school of commerce.

His first real step into the game was a role as head coach and manager for Noeux Les Mines (Youth and Seniors) from 1976–1982, winning promotion from Division 3 to Division 2 and also taking them to a number of youth titles. He became manager of Lens between in 1982, earning the French side a UEFA Cup qualification. He was tempted to the French capital when he was appointed manager of Paris St Germain in 1985 and led them to the French title one year later.

Moving into the international scene in 1988, Gerard worked as number two to National French Team Head Coach Michel Platini for the European Championships of 1998 and 1992. He then succeeded Platini in the post but his attempt to qualify for the World cup in 1994 ended in disaster and he returned to manage the French U-18 side that won the European U-18 Championship in 1996.

He then became head coach of the French Team who reached the quarter-finals of the Under-20 World Championships held in Malaysia, 1997. Gerard was also the National Technical Director for the French Football Association from 1990 to 1998. His period in charge of the National Team coincided with the golden age for French Football, as the country won the FIFA World Cup in 1998 in their home tournament.

He arrived at Anfield to work alongside Roy Evans as joint manager in the summer of 1998. It was a partnership that only lasted four months as Evans left the club in November that year leaving Houllier in sole charge.

It was therefore something of a surprise when he accepted an offer from Liverpool in the summer of 1998 to become joint manager of Liverpool alongside Roy Evans. A relative unknown into the English game his stock could not have been any higher, the man responsible for guiding France to the highest peak in football returning to a city he had fallen in love with many years earlier. Liverpool were soon to put Houllier in sole charge, with Phil Thompson appointed as his assistant.

It was an inspired move as Houllier rebuilt the team and instilled renewed belief into the club. Liverpool fans began to think in terms of their team challenging once again for the top honours in domestic and European football and, before long, that was exactly what they did.

Houllier's first season ended with them narrowly missing out on a place in the Champions League having been edged out by Leeds on the final day.

The 2000/2001 season proved to be the signal of Liverpool's re-emergence under the Frenchman as he led his team to triple glory in the Worthington Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup. Not only that, but the Champions League place that had eluded The Reds for so long was also claimed, ironically at Leeds' expense, again on the final day of the season.

The outlook for Houllier and Liverpool was promising in 2001/2002 but Gerard was unexpectedly taken ill with a heart condition during Liverpool's game against Leeds in October and underwent an 11-hour operation following a dissection of his aorta.

Thankfully, he was able to make a full recovery and in his absence, assistant manager Phil Thompson took charge of team affairs and has oversaw the Club's passage into the second phase of the Champions League as well as keeping The Reds in contention at the top of the Premier League. Having kept in touch with matters at Anfield by telephone, Gerard returned to the dug-out five months after his operation to see Liverpool secure a place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over Roma on an emotional night at Anfield. They were beaten by a late goal by Bayer Leverkusen preventing them from reaching the semi-finals but, nevertheless, it was an excellent first campaign back in Europe's most prestigious competition for the Reds and Houllier was proud of his team's achievement. They also managed to finish as runners-up in the Premier League, pushing Manchester United into third place, and ensuring automatic qualification for the following season's Champions League first group stage.

Gerard is renowned for his enthusiasm for the game and his willingness to help its development at all levels, serving on the FIFA Technical Committee and the JIRA and UEFA Technical Committees. Along with assistant boss Phil Thompson, the Frenchman received a special achievement award from the LMA, for their efforts in guiding the club to second in the league despite his lengthy absence from the dug-out.

Liverpool's start to the following season promised to bring them their first league title since 1990 as they raced ahead in the Premier League. However, a loss of form cost them a chance of challenging for the Championship.

Success came in the Worthington Cup once again, as goals from Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen saw off northwest rivals Manchester United at the Millennium Stadium.

His achievements were recognised in the summer by the Queen, as he was given an OBE in Her Majesty's birthday Honours list, along with French compatriot Arsene Wenger.

The 2003/04 season proved to be Houllier's last with the club. Despite securing qualification for the Champions League with a fourth-placed finish, The Reds and Houllier 'parted company' with Liverpool on 24th May after a meeting with the board.

Since his departure from Liverpool, and after a short time out of the game Houllier returned to front line management in his home country, taking over at Lyon. The success continued, as he led the club to two league titles and in his first season, set a club record of their 5th successive title. He also won two Trophée des champions.

He joined Villa having served as Technical Director of the French Football Federation.

Houllier has also been awarded the Légion d'Honneur for his services to French football.

Honours (17)
  • league-titles
    • Olympique Lyonnais:
      • French Ligue Champions, (2007-05-26)
      • French Ligue Champions, (2006-05-30)
    • Paris St Germain:
      • French Ligue Champions, (1986-04-28)
  • domestic-trophies
    • Olympique Lyonnais:
      • French Trophée des Champions Winners, (2006-05-30)
      • Champions Trophy, (2006-03-30)
      • French Trophée des Champions Winners, (2005-05-30)
    • Liverpool:
      • League Cup Winners, (2003-03-02)
      • Charity Shield Winners, (2001-08-12)
      • FA Cup Winners, (2001-05-12)
      • League Cup Winners, (2001-02-25)
  • personal-awards
    • Liverpool:
      • Awarded OBE, (2003-01-01)
      • Manager of the Month, Premier League, (2002-10-01)
      • Manager of the Month, Premier League, (2002-03-01)
      • LMA Special Achievement Award, (2001-05-30)
      • Coach of the Year [World Soccer Magazine], (2000-12-01)
  • european-trophies
    • Liverpool:
      • UEFA Super Cup Winners, (2001-08-24)
      • UEFA Cup Winners, (2001-05-16)
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