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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Profile: Gerard Houllier
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BBC Sport Online charts the career of Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier.
Gerard Houllier assumed sole control of Liverpool when his partnership with Roy Evans ended in November 1998.
Since then, he has spent £105m and transformed Anfield's fading fortunes on the pitch.
An unprecedented three trophies in 2001-02 suggested that last season would be one to remember, but instead it was dominated by personal tragedy and subsequent recovery.
The popular Frenchman was taken to hospital at half-time after suffering a suspected heart attack during a Premiership match with Leeds last October.
Tests carried out at the Royal Liverpool Hospital and at the cardiothoracic unit at Broadgreen showed that the 54-year-old had a problem known as dissection of the aorta, which required 11 hours of emergency open-heart surgery.
Few thought he would return to football in any capacity, but a remarkable recovery saw him back at Anfield to guide his team through the latter stages of the season.
When Liverpool finished the campaign without a trophy, his earlier remarks that his side stood "10 games from greatness" appeared somewhat injudicious.
But the team had still finished second in the Premiership, ahead of Manchester United for the first time since long before Houllier's arrival on Merseyside.
They also reached the Champions League quarter-finals, despite their manager's absence for much of the European odyssey.
In the summer of 1999, Houllier bought six players, including defenders Sami Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz, who have become one of the best central defensive partnerships in Europe.
His squad strengthening saw him shell out £32.5m during 2000 - a move which paid off in a big way when the Reds landed their amazing cup Treble.
At the start of last season he signed Polish international goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek and Chris Kirkland as his understudy.
He then took Nicolas Anelka on loan before deciding not to make that move permanent.
This summer has seen the arrival of Senegalese sensation El-Hadji Diouf for £10m as well as his compatriot Salif Diao and Bruno Cheyrou from the French league.
The feeling around Anfield is that more success should be just around the corner.
Houllier's association with the club stems back to the late Sixties, when he was a teacher in Liverpool.
He stood on the Kop to watch the Merseyside club defeat Dundalk 10-0 in the European Fairs Cup in 1969.
His career then took him back to France, where, as a 26-year-old, he became player-coach at Le Touquet.
Houllier then became youth coach at Arras before being appointed head coach of Noeux Les Mines, a team he guided into the French Second Division with two consecutive promotions.
His success continued when he took over at Lens. He helped the club to promotion as well as earning them qualification for the Uefa Cup.
He secured the French title for Paris St Germain in 1986 before embarking on a spell in international management.
He became technical director of the French team as well as assistant to national team coach Michel Platini.
Houllier was eventually promoted to national team manager, but his reign ended abruptly when France failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.
He continued as technical director and masterminded France's European under-18 championship success in 1996 before playing a key back-room role in France's 1998 World Cup victory.
Houllier is an articulate, intelligent man and still has the appearance and demeanour of the teacher he once was.
Yet beneath this calm exterior is a passionate manager who is ready to be tough when necessary, raising £62m by selling unwanted assets.
He dumped Christian Ziege from his squad after the German international criticised his manager and he refused to play then-club captain Robbie Fowler until he apologised for a training ground spat with assistant manager Phil Thompson.
Dutch goalkeeper Sander Westerveld was another player unceremoniously offloaded 12 months ago.
Houllier inherited a talented but wayward squad, "The Spice Boys" as they were known.
He removed free spirits such as Steve McManaman and David James and showed Paul Ince the door.
He then set about establishing an atmosphere of reliability, consistency and discipline which has seen men such as Hyypia, Henchoz and Hamman flourish.
After the trophies of two seasons ago, the last campaign ended in anti-climax.
But, more importantly, it ended with a rejuvenated Houllier back at the Liverpool helm.
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