Actually, I personally do not rate Gerard Houllier. To me, he is a coach associated with failures. Really. I remember the tragedy at Parc des Princes in November 1993, when Emil Kostadinov's last-gasp winning goal crushed the hopes of a generation that boasted Jean-Pierre Papin, David Ginola and Eric Cantona - the latter two having never played in the World Cup. The coach - Houllier.
In Liverpool, most of Houllier's signings were basically nondescript.
But if one studies the factors leading to France's 1998 World Cup success and the concept of academy (centre-de-formation) which helped nurture hundreds of top-class footballers, Houllier's contribution cannot be denied.
Three times I have had the good fortune of coming face to face with the man.
In 1997, he brushed aside my question on the speculation linking him to the England FA job.
In 2005, he refused to mention any name when I asked him before the entire family of Asian coaches attending the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Symposium on who was the recently deceased French coach widely respected by the generation of Giresse, Tigana and Fernandez.
In 2010, however, I managed to leave a mark. In my desire to interview Houllier for the Kerusi VIP column for EPLx Kosmo! and obtain unanswered questions that harked back to 1997, I took the trouble to catch him on three occasions during the Asean Football Federation (AFF) seminar for technical directors. On the pitch, off the pitch and in between classes!