Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher led the tributes to former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier, who has died at the age of 73.
The Frenchman, who also managed Aston Villa later in his career, guided the Reds to an FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup treble in 2001, the highlight of his six-year spell in charge.
Houllier also managed Paris St Germain, Lyon and the France national team during his career.
Former players, colleagues and fellow managers paid warm tributes, with ex-Reds striker Owen describing him as a “genuinely caring man”.
Carragher wrote on Twitter: “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.”
Gerrard added on Instagram: “Devastated to hear the news my former manager Gerard Houllier has passed away. I will never forget what this man did for me and my career. Rest in peace Boss YNWA x”
Houllier’s death was first reported by French media who said he had recently undergone heart surgery, having suffering from heart complications for several years.
Liverpool said on Twitter: “We are mourning the passing of our treble-winning manager, Gerard Houllier.
“The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Gerard’s family and many friends. Rest in peace, Gerard Houllier 1947-2020.”
We are mourning the passing of our treble-winning manager, Gerard Houllier.
The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Gerard’s family and many friends.
Rest in peace, Gerard Houllier 1947-2020. pic.twitter.com/isHGXIfe5E
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 14, 2020
A post from Villa read: “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.”
Houllier’s career was marked by several successes, including the 1986 French Division 1 title with PSG and Ligue 1 titles with Lyon in 2006 and 2007, but the tributes paid on Monday were also testament to his popularity as an individual.
Phil Thompson, who worked alongside Houllier as part of his backroom staff at Liverpool, tweeted to say: “Absolutely devastated and heartbroken at the sad news of the passing of Gerard.
“My mate, my colleague, my boss. One of the greatest moments of my life was when we came together in 1998. Just to be in his company was an absolute treat. So loyal, so passionate and extremely fierce.
“So many wonderful times, bringing smiles back to peoples faces. 2001 should never be forgotten.
“Since we finished, at the end of every conversation we had, I told him I loved him and would always be grateful for him giving a wonderful partnership. RIP Boss.”
Former Liverpool forward and manager Sir Kenny Dalglish tweeted: “Very sad news about Gerard Houllier. He was a gentleman and a great footballing person; I enjoyed his company many times.
“His legacy at LFC will forever be appreciated, respected and never forgotten. Marina and I offer our sincere condolences to his family. RIP Gerard. YNWA.”
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson described Houllier as a “great ally” and said his death came as a “total shock”.
He said on the United website: “Gerard became a really good friend during his time at Liverpool. We remained great friends after he left and he was always a great ally to have.
“He had fantastic football knowledge which he gained during his extensive and varied career. When we saw each other at UEFA meetings or other events, we would often enjoy a chat, he was always great company and I will miss him dearly. He was a true gentleman.
“It is a sad day for the football world and my thoughts are with his family at this desperately sad time.”
French football federation president Noel Le Graet said: “It is with great emotion and deep sadness that I learned of the death of Gerard Houllier.
— French Team ⭐⭐ (@FrenchTeam) December 14, 2020
“French football is losing one of its greatest technicians, and the French federation one of its most loyal servants. Gerard Houllier has distinguished himself at all levels of football.
“In the amateur world as a player and then as a coach, in the professional world as a coach of renowned clubs, in the federation as national technical director and coach of the France team.
“Beyond his unanimously recognised technical qualities, Gerard Houllier was a great teacher, open-minded, warm, accessible, deeply human.
“French football owes him a lot. On behalf of the federation, I send our heartfelt thoughts and condolences to his family and loved ones.”
League Managers Association chairman Howard Wilkinson said: “As a coach and a manager, Gerard’s record speaks for itself.
“As a gentleman, Gerard was open, thoughtful and accommodating, and he will be very sadly missed.”