Liverpool treble ensures Houllier legacy

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Gerard Houllier appears resigned to ending his managerial career in football, three-and-a-half months after leaving his last post as manager of Aston Villa.

The Frenchman missed the later part of the season with chest-pains, and agreed mutually with the Villains that his departure would be for the best both personally and for the club. It's unlikely he'll ever take to the dugout again.

"I've got to admit that, probably, I won't go back into management. I'm practically 85%. I'm still getting there." said the 63-year-old.

"Obviously, the profession that I used to have was not the best to keep in good health because of what I have."

A genetic heart-problem not helped by the rigors of working in such a stressful environment, Houllier underwent emergency open-heart surgery in October 2001 after suffering pains during half-time of a Premier League clash between Liverpool and Leeds United.

Despite the problem, he remained manager at Anfield until 2004, spending six-years in charge of the Reds during undoubtedly one of his most successful periods in charge of a club.

The 2000/01 season was the highlight, with Liverpool scooping a remarkable treble, winning the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup in the same campaign.


A first trophy success came on the 25th February, when Birmingham City fell 5-4 on penalties to the Reds after a 1-1 draw at The Millenium Stadium. Robbie Fowler had given the Merseysiders a first-half lead from long range before Darren Purse's 90th minute penalty equaliser. It would be heartbreak from the spot for Trevor Francis' side though.

The FA Cup followed two-and-a-half months later, with Michael Owen's late double securing an unlikely victory against the Premier League runners-Up.

Freddie Ljungberg opened the scoring for the Gunners after a significant spell of pressure, but two strikes from the England international hitman secured a famous comeback victory for Houllier & Co against Arsene Wenger's side.

Four days later, the Reds made the trip to Germany to face Alaves in what turned out to be a classic UEFA Cup final encounter, winning in dramatic fashion with a 117th minute Golden Goal, or own goal as it turned out to be.

Marcus Babbel, Steven Gerrard, Gary McAllister and Robbie Fowler were all on the scoresheet in normal time, with the 5-4 win ensuring the former France manager's place in the Liverpool history books.

Whilst Houlliier has other successes to his name, notably three Ligue 1 titles with PSG and Lyon (2), his efforts at Anfield will be what people remember most about the manager in England.

And whilst the lure of management could yet pull the veteran back into the game once more in the future, for the sake of his health and legacy, it appears time to say 'au revoir' to Gerard.

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