Liverpool legend Phil Thompson pays heartfelt tribute to Gerard Houllier and says Anfield icon’s passing felt ‘like a family member dying’ December 15, 2020 – Posted in: Soccer
Liverpool legend Phil Thompson says it feels as if he has lost a family member upon Gerard Houllier’s death.
The Frenchman, who bossed the Reds between 1998 and 2004, passed away aged 73 on Monday, just days after having a heart operation.
Thompson, who won seven league titles with Liverpool as a player, was Houllier’s No.2 throughout his time in charge of the club and was ‘shocked’ by the sad news.
He told White and Jordan on talkSPORT: “It was very difficult, especially in the morning with people trying to get in touch, because it was like a member of the family dying.
“It was such a shock because I didn’t realise he’d gone in and he was having that operation in Paris.
“So to get the news as I did at 9.45am was just a massive shock, because we had such a wonderful relationship.
“Besides being coaches, we had such a wonderful thing and all day yesterday with my sons and my wife, we were talking about all the good times and how great it was.
“Even as we’d finished [working together], in the last few years he’d see my sons when he’d come to Anfield.
“They grew up and got a lot bigger, but he knew them and recognised them, he’d give them a kiss on either side of the cheek. It was his affectionate way of greeting everybody.”
Liverpool won two League Cups, an FA Cup and a UEFA Cup under Houllier’s guidance.
Reds icons Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher paid tribute to their former manager, while Danny Murphy told talkSPORT ‘he changed my career and my life’.
Thompson revealed Houllier could be fierce at times, despite his kind nature.
“His qualities were wonderful,” he added. “It’s been well-documented on the TV and in the papers; [he was] warm, caring.
“But he could be fierce as well with it. He didn’t shirk making big judgements. As a manager, sometimes you have to make them.
“As players, you call managers everything because ‘you can’t do that to me’, this, that, but as you get older you realise why the decisions had to be made.
“So he never shirked an issue, but he had that wonderful warm human touch and you felt it coming out of Jamie Carragher’s words, Steven Gerrard’s words, Danny Murphy’s words…
“Carra and Steven always said that Rafa probably just about edged it as a coach, but as a man-manager Houllier was a million miles apart from him.
“He was top class. He took care of the players and their families. I think that was a side of him that got to people and why they really loved him.”