10 of the best quotes on Gerard Houllier: ‘I absolutely adore that man’

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Tributes have poured in for former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier, who has died at the age of 73. 

Houllier is remembered incredibly fondly at Anfield, having brought through a new generation of players and helping to lay the foundations for the club to win the Champions League in 2005.

But the Frenchman was also successful in his own right, leading Liverpool to a treble of trophies in their unforgettable 2000-01 campaign with the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup.

He later added a Charity Shield, UEFA Super Cup and a second League Cup to his honours list during his six-year stint in Merseyside.

Here are 10 quotes on Houllier from those who knew him best.

Jamie Carragher

“[Houllier would tell us before a final] ‘If I see anyone waving to a wife or a family member as you go out, I’ll bring you off in a minute…you’re going to war with them,'” Carragher said, speaking on his Greatest Game podcast.

“People’s perception of Houllier is as this nice French uncle, whereas he was so tough, he was so hard, his team meetings were amazing – I absolutely adore that man.”

Steven Gerrard

“Very respectful, but I was coming off the back of a manager like [Gerard] Houllier who was like a father figure,” said Gerrard, comparing Houllier to the more distant style of his successor Rafael Benitez.

“He’d speak to me every day, put an arm around me. His man-management to me was really loving.”

Alex Ferguson

“When a club of Liverpool’s history and tradition pull off a treble of cup wins, as they did in 2001, with the FA, League and UEFA trophies under Gerard Houllier, you are bound to feel a tremor of dread. My thought that year was, ‘Oh no, not them. Anybody but them,'” Ferguson wrote in his autobiography.

“I liked and respected Houllier. Steven Gerrard was starting to emerge as a youthful force in midfield and they could summon two sensational goalscorers in Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler.”

Gary McAllister

“Ask anyone who has worked under Alex Ferguson, they will say he has definitely mellowed,” McAllister said on how Houllier approached the job at Aston Villa, having worked there as an assistant to him after their time together at Liverpool.

“You can’t work at that intensity forever and ever. I’ve noticed a mellowing there with Gerard, but he is still first here, and still last away.

“Around the training ground, his experience tells him there is another perspective and not to panic rather than working away at 100mph all the time.

“His incident must be a factor as well. That was scary. I was in the dressing room. We didn’t know the severity of it at the time.

“He is still ultra-professional though, very thorough, probably the hardest worker I have ever met.”

Michael Owen

“He really dragged the club into this new era of how you look after yourself and prepare,” Owen told FourFourTwo.

“We were looking at Arsenal and they were mind-blowing. We were thinking, ‘These buggers don’t get injured, they run faster than us, they run longer than us, they’re never resting players – what the hell are they doing?’

“Houllier was the first to introduce those ideas at Anfield. He could never tell Gerrard how to pass a ball, or me how to finish, or Carragher how to defend, but what he was really good at was judging players.

“Tactically he was very astute. He was good at motivating and getting us working as a unit. He was a very good leader of people.”

Arsene Wenger

“I am happy to share this day with you because in some way we started together, and we have excellent teams together,” the former Arsenal manager told Houllier when the pair were awarded honorary OBEs together in 2003.

“I would like to take this as a symbol of how much sport can do for our understanding of people from different countries.”

Emile Heskey

“You understand that you’re learning more and more. On the training pitch, we had poles everywhere and he would go to one and ask us where we needed to be.

“You’re just moving around the pitch for 45 minutes with no footballs working on shape.

“The majority of us enjoyed it. That’s what football was all about, we were learning. I really enjoyed it.”

READ: The weird & wonderful world of Gerard Houllier’s first Liverpool signings

Didi Hamann

“Gerard was more of man-manager and that’s what was needed at the time because we had a lot of young, talented English lads,” Hamann told the Liverpool Echo.

“Players like Stevie, Michael, Carra, Danny Murphy, David Thompson. They came through the ranks and when you are young and start playing you can get carried away.

“So I think Gerard did a great job of keeping them on the floor and grounded. He had a massive influence on all of them, Rafa then came in and he was more of a tactician.”

Phil Thompson 

“The fans don’t truly appreciate what he did for this club,” his former assistant told The Guardian in 2010.

“Gerard worked tirelessly behind the scenes, rebuilding the team and wresting power from the players he inherited. That was his legacy — making Liverpool more disciplined, more professional, and that means as much to Gerard as the trophies he won.”

Danny Murphy

“He’d want me to talk, that’s the type of man he was, he always wanted you to be the best you and try and overcome fears.

“He changed my career. He made me see football differently, the way I looked after myself.

“He was intelligent, a warm character. He couldn’t kick a ball, we’d sometimes have a laugh when he tried in training, but in terms of tactics, of captivating a room and inspiring people, he was fantastic. A great guy.

“The warmth he always gave me I still feel when I speak about him. I’ve got so much to thank him for.”


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