EXCLUSIVE JAMIE REDKNAPP: Gerard Houllier made good players better… just ask Gerrard, Carragher and Owen. And the moment he gave me the Liverpool captaincy was the greatest of my club career. Thanks for everything, gaffer
I look back and see the arrival of Gerard Houllier at Liverpool as akin to Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. He was a very forward-thinking manager. He modernised the club.
He made the youngsters understand what it takes to get to the very top, teaching them how to get the best out of their bodies. Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen and so many more benefitted from being taken under his wing.
One of Gerard’s favourite sayings to us was: ‘Drinking alcohol is as silly as putting diesel in a racing car.’ If you put the wrong fuel into your body, it won’t work as well. That resonated with the players.
Gerard Houllier was a real gentleman but he could be strict too – he had that streak in him
Houllier was a very forward thinking manager, who certainly modernised Liverpool
Houllier’s arrival on Merseyside was akin to Arsene Wenger’s at Arsenal in 1996
Houllier was responsible for the greatest moment of my club career, making me captain
The youngsters were in awe of him, and I particularly liked the discipline he instilled. The rules about turning up on time, training hard, knowing when’s the time to work and when’s the time to have fun.
Gerard was gentlemanly, someone you could sit in his office and talk football with, but he could be strict, too. He had that streak in him. It was a regimented set-up.
Long before Liverpool, Gerard used to be a deputy headmaster in France, and you could see that in the way he interacted with the younger players. He wanted to educate them. He wanted to take these wide-eyed talents and turn them into worldbeaters. He was like a father figure to them.
That is why we have seen such an emotional reaction to the news of his sad passing from those who were fortunate enough to work with him.
Steven Gerrard was one of many youngsters who benefitted from being taken under his wing
Houllier was like a father figure to his players during his time at Anfield with Liverpool
Gerard was more than a manager to his players, and he was a hero to the fans, too. He gave them so many reasons to love him, especially in that 2000-01 season.
Gerard’s decision to sign Didi Hamann and Sami Hyypia in 1999 was a masterstroke. He knew how to organise a sturdy defence, how to be hard to beat and how to win.
On a personal note, Gerard was responsible for the greatest moment of my club career. It took place during pre-season in 1999 when he called me into his hotel room.
Paul Ince had left the club and I had just turned 26. He told me: ‘You’re now the captain of the club.’ What a moment. I could never thank him enough for placing that trust in me. We continued to chat but to tell the truth, I couldn’t wait to get out of that hotel room so I could call my family and tell them!
All of us Liverpool players had so much respect, and a little bit of fear, for the Frenchman
Unfortunately, just as I was warming to my new role, knee injuries struck me down. I couldn’t play a part on the pitch in 2000-01, Liverpool’s treble-winning season. But I observed Gerard behind the scenes, studied how he was with people and how he would get the best out of the players. I stored that away, just in case I ever decided to become a manager myself.
I had so much respect for him. All of us did. There was also a little bit of fear, and you need that in a leader sometimes. He had his assistant, Patrice Bergues, by his side. Bergues was a super smart man, and very nice, too. Together they were a dream team.
Me and Gerard had our ups and downs, but that’s the way it is between plenty of players and managers. That does not mean I ever lost any respect for him. I held him in the highest regard possible.
What he did for Liverpool after arriving in 1998 was iconic. School teaching’s loss was clearly football’s gain. All we can do now is remember the great memories he gave us. I will never forget what he did for me. Thank you, gaffer.