We are mourning the passing of our treble-winning manager, Gerard Houllier.
The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Gerard’s family and many friends.
Rest in peace, Gerard Houllier 1947-2020. pic.twitter.com/isHGXIfe5E
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 14, 2020
The football world was rocked earlier in the week, with the news that the former Lens, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool boss, Gérard Houllier, sadly passed away, following a heart operation. Tributes poured in about the Frenchman, with Steven Gerrard leading the way.
In his tribute, Gerrard said: “This was someone who wanted me to be a better person, who wanted me to build all the other stuff around the talent I had at that age. I’ll never forget that.”
The current Rangers manager played under Houllier, during his time at Anfield, and it was in fact Houllier that handed Gerrard his debut in November 1998. It was also under the Frenchman that Liverpool completed a memorable treble in 2001 – winning the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup.
A different kind of treble could well be on the cards for Liverpool this season, with the Reds the leaders at the top of the Premier League table, facing Aston Villa in the FA Cup next month, and having progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League, where they play RB Leipzig. You’ll find Liverpool’s name amongst the favourites in all the markets for football betting at Betfair.
The 2000-01 season was an incredibly successful one for Liverpool, with a hat-trick of trophies ending Houllier’s dry spell of three years without silverware, finally giving the fans in the Kop something to cheer about.
The Anfielders were well on their way to success as early as February, when they won the League Cup at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, held there as Wembley was being rebuilt. After comfortably beating Crystal Palace over two legs in the semi-final, Birmingham City were the opponents.
It proved to be a pulsating final, with late drama. Liverpool had gone ahead in the first half, through Robbie Fowler, but the Blues left it until the dying stages to equalise – Darren Purse levelling from the penalty spot. After extra time, it was still honours even and so, the final was to be decided by penalties. City missed their first spot-kick, while Liverpool scored their first three. Dietmar Hamann missed their fourth, but Andy Johnson went on to miss for Birmingham – giving the Reds a 5-4 victory and their first piece of silverware for the season.
With Wembley out of action, the FA Cup final was also held at the Millennium Stadium, with the semi-final games played on neutral ground. Liverpool had beaten Wycombe Wanderers at Villa Park to return to the Welsh capital, where they took on long-term nemesis, Arsenal.
The Gunners had gone ahead through Freddie Ljungberg in the 72nd minute, and it looked as though their silverware drought would come to an end. But two goals from Liverpool’s top scorer, Michael Owen, turned the tide of the tie – and ensured the Reds completed the Cup double.
The 2001 UEFA Cup final was held at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund, and it was Liverpool’s first European final since the Heysel disaster. Alavés were their opponents, and the Spanish side were competing in their first European final. The match was a nine-goal thriller, with extra time employed – and the Reds won via the Golden Goal rule. It was heartbreak for Alavés, with four minutes remaining, and it looking like the match would go to penalties. Defender Antonio Karmona received his second yellow card, and from the resulting free-kick, which was whipped in by Gary McAllister, Delfi Geli headed into his own net. It finished Liverpool 5-4 Alavés, with the Reds not only winning their third UEFA Cup, but completing a memorable treble.
Notably, the following season, there was no silverware at Anfield and there was a period of five months whereby Houllier was forced to take time off. After falling ill during a 1-1 draw with Leeds at Anfield, it transpired that the Frenchman was suffering with a heart condition. Assistant manager Phil Thompson took over caretaker duties in the interim.
And it was Thompson who continued the tributes. He concluded in his Guardian column: “It would have been the 20th anniversary of his heart operation next year and we were talking about getting together for a meal in Paris or Liverpool to mark the occasion. I told him that 13th October just gone was his 19th birthday. Bless him. He is a massive part in the history of Liverpool Football Club. He leaves a great legacy.”