Gerard Houllier, the former Liverpool manager, passed away at the age of 73.
Houllier died just days after a heart operation. He suffered from a dissection of the descending aorta, which is when the inner layer of the aorta – the biggest blood vessel in the body – tears and blood then forces the aorta to separate.
The football legend has suffered heart issues throughout his career – even taking five months out of the game while in charge of Liverpool in 2001.
The Frenchman was rushed to Liverpool Royal Infirmary during Liverpool’s home league draw with Leeds United on October 13 for observation after complaining of chest pains.
A hospital spokesman said: “Mr Houllier is conscious, and he is sitting up in bed talking to the people who are giving him tests. He is comfortable and in our A & E department.”
After a life-saving operation at Broadgreen Hospital in Liverpool, a club statement said he was taken off the ventilator, suggesting an improvement in his condition.
The report said: “We stated yesterday that the next significant step would be for Gerard to be taken off the ventilator and we are delighted to say this has now happened and we are encouraged by this positive progress.”
Houllier returned to Anfield five months later but acknowledged he was fortunate to have survived the trauma.
He told the Liverpool Echo in his first interview since emergency heart surgery: “Physically, I felt something was wrong, but I did not show that to my players. If you show you are weak, the team will be weak. In my mind, I could not allow that to happen.
“At half-time, I felt something was wrong with my chest,” the 54-year-old Frenchman said, but he insisted on speaking to the players.
“I wanted to keep the players self-esteem up. I didn’t want them to go out in the second half with a lack of confidence or with their minds not on the game.”
When he took the position at Villa Park in September 2010, Houllier said he had consulted his heart surgeon Dr Abbas Rashid before accepting the job.
He said at the time: “When you go into a job you know there will be pressure, that it will be hard work and you won’t sleep every night.
“You need to make sure your body is ready. I have checked that. I am much healthier and fitter now than I was before.”
Gerard Houllier dead:
Gerard Houllier dead: Tributes have flooded in for the former Liverpool manager (Image: GETTY)
Houllier was released from hospital after three days and given the go-ahead to recuperate at home.
Speaking after he was released from the hospital, assistant boss Gary McAllister said: “He is feeling fantastic. He has come through a scan which was very very successful.
“He is going to be discharged within the next 24 hours so the news couldn’t be better for Gerard as far as what has happened.
“The doctors are really, really pleased. The news from the scan convinced the doctors he was fit enough to go home.”