Former Liverpool and France manager Gerard Houllier has died, according to French media.
The 73-year-old, who also managed Aston Villa, Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon) and Paris St Germain (PSG), passed away after having a heart operation in Paris, L’Equipe said.
Liverpool said in a statement on Monday: “The Frenchman was in charge of the Reds for six seasons, leading his team to an historic and unforgettable treble of League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup in 2000-01 and returning the club to the Champions League.
Former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher said on Twitter he had contact with Houllier, whom he “loved to bits”, last month and was “devastated” at the passing of a man who changed his game and the club.
Former England striker Michael Owen, who played under Houllier at Liverpool, wrote on Twitter: “Absolutely heartbroken to hear that my old boss, Gérard Houllier, has sadly passed away. A great manager and a genuinely caring man.”
Gary Lineker, who played for Merseyside rivals, Everton, called him one of the “smartest, warmest and loveliest people in football”.
Liverpool’s record goal scorer Ian Rush called him “a true gentleman”.
The Frenchman, who had a long history of heart problems, initially joined the club as a joint manager with Roy Evans in 1998, a unusual experiment that proved unsuccessful.
In November that year, Evans left the club and Houllier took sole charge of the team.
His lasting achievement came in 2001, when the Reds won a treble of League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup (now the Europa League) as well as finishing third in the Premier League, which was then known as the Premiership.
But just a few months later, in October, he was taken ill at a game with Leeds and rushed to hospital for an emergency operation after doctors discovered he had a heart condition known as an aortic dissection.
He returned to the dugout five months later and guided the side to second in the league, at the time their highest Premiership finish.
Houllier was sacked in 2004 after failing to build on the progress he had made.
Returning to France, he coached Olympique Lyonnais to back-to-back league titles before quitting in 2007 and later had a short spell back in England with Aston Villa.
Before his time at Anfield, he managed the French national side.
Appointed in 1992, he quit the following year after failing to get the team to the 1994 world cup finals, despite having talents such as Eric Cantona and David Ginola at his disposal.
Prior to that, he started in youth level coaching in France before taking Paris St Germain to the French league title in 1986, a year after being appointed, and later becoming France’s technical director.