Chelsea boss Emma Hayes has paid tribute to the “wonderful” Gerard Houllier and praised the former Liverpool manager for his contributions to women’s football.
Houllier, who died on Monday at the age of 73, spent most of his career in the dugout but in the latter stages moved to the boardroom, becoming director of football at Lyon Feminine.
Hayes knew Houllier – “I got used to seeing him on the circuit” – because of their shared interest in the women’s game and was deeply saddened by the news of his passing.
“It’s been well documented his contribution to the women’s game,” said Hayes ahead of Wednesday’s match against Benfica in the Champions League.
“I know he was a big fan of the women’s game. His contributions and his technical insight’s for Lyon I’m sure have provided a lot for them and he deserves all of the respect from all of us for his contributions.
“What a wonderful man he was. Reading some of the statements of players who played for him shows some of the things you need to have to do this job.
“And he went above and beyond for his players, not only to inspire them to win but to do the right things throughout their professional careers and that really stood out for me. It’s a really sad time for his family.”
‘The only Frenchman I knew with a British sense of humour’
Lyon head coach Jean-Luc Vasseur had a close relationship with Houllier after working with the former France boss in his playing days and as a manager.
Houllier brought Vasseur to Lyon Feminine in 2019 and played a key role in the team’s development.
“I wanted to pay tribute to Gérard Houllier, on a day that has me full of emotion. I think of his loved ones, I send them my sincere condolences,” said Vasseur on Monday.
“He was the first to give me a chance to break into the professional world when I was a player. He was also the first to give me this opportunity to work with the OL Women. It was with great sadness that I heard this news.
“He was a bubbly, charming person. He was a lover of football. He was very involved in what he did with the women’s team. It is a great loss for us and for those close to him.
“There were a lot of discussions with him about the evolution of women’s football. He was very interesting, always a joker.
“He’s the only Frenchman I know who had a British sense of humour. These are just good memories that I keep and that I will keep of him.”