Gerard Houllier, former manager of Liverpool, Lyon, PSG and France, has died aged 73

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By Alasdair Sandford
Gerard Houllier celebrates victory for Liverpool over Manchester United in the Worthington (League) Cup Final, March 2, 2003.
Gerard Houllier celebrates victory for Liverpool over Manchester United in the Worthington (League) Cup Final, March 2, 2003.   -   Copyright  ODD ANDERSEN / AFP

Gérard Houllier, former coach of the French national football team as well as the prestigious clubs Liverpool, Paris St Germain and Olympique Lyonnais, has died at the age of 73.

The French sports newspaper L'Equipe reports that his death came three days after he underwent heart surgery in Paris. The news has been confirmed by Lens, the club he managed in the early 1980s, as well as a source at PSG, AFP reports.

Houllier was hugely influential and innovative figure in French football and also abroad, where in England he managed Liverpool from 1998 to 2004, as well as Aston Villa from 2010 to 2011.

The Merseyside club enjoyed extraordinary success in the 2000-2001 season, winning a historic treble: the UEFA Cup, FA Cup, and League Cup. That summer Liverpool also went on to win the UEFA Super Cup.

He is credited with overhauling the club which had fallen into mediocrity after its legendary success of the 1970s and 1980s. Several established players were sold as Houllier brought in many from abroad.

Although he left Liverpool in 2004 after a poor spell, he was widely credited for building the side that went on to win the Champions League in 2005. The team inspired by Steven Gerrard -- who had been made captain by Houllier -- famously came from 3-0 down in the final against Milan to level at 3-3 and go on to win on penalties.

With Lyon, Houllier went on to win Ligue 1 twice, in 2006 and 2007, part of a massively successful streak for the French side which saw them win the title in seven successive seasons. Two decades earlier, in 1986 he had taken Paris St Germain to the French title during a three-year spell in charge.

The following years saw him involved with the French national set-up. First technical director and then assistant to the national side, he took over from Michel Platini as national coach in 1992. His time at the top however was short-lived: he resigned in November 1993 after France failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

It was a traumatic failure for French football, and the fallout saw a bitter argument with David Ginola, the player he disparaged over Bulgaria's winning goal in the last minute of the final qualifying match that sealed France's fate.

Houllier however remained active in the higher realms of French football, taking charge of the Under-18 and Under-20 sides. He was also technical director to the national side and played a role in reorganising French football, which five years after the 1993 debacle was catapulted to the top of the world with World Cup triumph on home soil in 1998.

In recent years, he returned to Lyon as an adviser, having been sporting director for the New York Red Bulls.

Houllier's heart problems were exposed in October 2001, when he was rushed to hospital for an emergency operation after falling ill during a match between Liverpool and Leeds United. Although he returned to managerial duties several months later, the experience left him weakened.

Gérard Houllier was awarded the French Légion d'honneur and a British OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his services to French and English football respectively.