Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp hails 'true legend' Gerard Houllier
LONDON - Current Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to former Reds boss Gerard Houllier, who died aged 73 on Monday, calling the Frenchman a "true coaching legend".
Houllier won four major trophies, including an unprecedented treble in 2001, during a six-year spell as manager of the Premier League giants.
"He is a true Liverpool legend and he is a true coaching legend," Klopp, who has won the Champions League and Premier League titles with Liverpool, told the club's website.
"He was really influential in the game. A great coach, but a human being who gave you a really warm feeling when you were around him. For all of us it is a big loss and a really sad day."
Houllier helped Liverpool become a consistent force in English football again after a barren spell in the late 1990s.
Last season's Premier League triumph under Klopp ended a 30-year wait for a top-flight league title, while Liverpool's only other major honours in the 90s were the 1992 FA Cup and 1995 League Cup.
Houllier lifted both those trophies, as well as the UEFA Cup, during his third season in charge, before his side also beat Manchester United to win the 2003 League Cup.
"I met him before I came to Liverpool and I knew him a little bit then," said Klopp, who took over at Anfield in 2015.
"When I arrived here, one of the first messages I received – and I didn't even know he had my number –was from Gerard Houllier...
"He was really supportive from the first day. Between now and then, always messages came in after big games, big defeats, big wins and all these kind of things.
"In between, Gerard really texted and told me, 'That was right... that was wrong... I know the situation...' and all this kind of stuff.
"He was a really, really, really nice and gentle person. I miss him now already."
Houllier, who also coached the French national team, Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon, was instrumental in the development of Liverpool's former Melwood training centre.
"Melwood at the time was a really modern place and that was because of him – he was a really modern coach, he played a specific way of football," added Klopp.