With the death of Gérard Houllier, French football loses one of its best teachers

Gérard Houllier holds the UEFA Cup in his arms after Liverpool's victory against Alaves (5-4) on May 1, 2001 in Dortmund.

Despite one of the finest achievements in French football, Gérard Houllier had made up his mind about his posterity, as he confided to the World by discussing the preparation of one of his chronicles for the 2018 World Cup. “When I die, I guess that the TVs will repeat the goal of[Emil] Kostadinov ‘, argued the former coach of the France team (1992-1993). With the detachment that only time allows, he evoked the murderous goal of the Bulgarian striker on November 17, 1993, which deprived the Blues of the trip to the United States for the 1994 World Cup.

Gérard Houllier died Monday, December 14, at the age of 73, at his Parisian home, three weeks after a new operation on the aorta. After Robert Herbin and Michel Hidalgo, 2020 has therefore won another “Greatest technicians”, as described by the president of the French Football Federation, Noël Le Graët.

Because, at the hour of the tribute, his memory and his work also deserve the replay of the goals, for example, of Safet Susic, when Houllier led the young Paris-Saint-Germain to his first league title in 1986; but also those of Michael Owen in Liverpool where Gérard Houllier, former English teacher, won four trophies during an exceptional year 2000-2001 (Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup and European Supercup).

Born on September 3, 1947, in Thérouanne (Pas-de-Calais), Houllier kept from his first life the allure (small round glasses), the taste for teaching and a nickname rather used by his detractors reproaching him for his sometimes brittle tone. and his meager playing CV: “the teacher”. Ball on the feet, the Northerner has indeed never been a Sunday footballer of which only the spectators lined up along the handrail in Hucqueliers keep a vague memory of the talents.

“What gives you credibility is your action”

In the absence of practice, Houllier masters theory, taught first in Le Touquet in the amateur ranks then in Nœux-Les-Mines, where he won his first title: French champion of D3 of the North group in 1979. Facing those who reproached him for his lack of experience as a player, the technician often liked to quote his Italian colleague Arrigo Sacchi, another perfect autodidact. “I had never realized that to become a jockey, you first had to have been a horse”, declared the former European champion with AC Milan. From this difference, Houllier said to derive a force from it as he advanced it World in 2018.

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