Steven Gerrard pays tribute to Gerard Houllier ahead of first Aston Villa game

Steven Gerrard has said he will be ‘forever in debt’ to former Liverpool and Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier as he prepares for his first game as a Premier League manager this weekend.

Having moved south of the border following a successful debut role at Rangers, new Villa boss Gerrard will lead his side against Brighton at Villa Park on Saturday.

The former England star was mentored by Houllier, who sadly died last year at the age of 73, in his early days at Liverpool, with the Frenchman responsible for his first-team debut way back in 1998.

Gerrard was part of Houllier’s treble-winning Liverpool side in 2001 and that early guidance prepared him for a career as one of the very best midfielders of his generation.

“I’ll be forever in his debt for what he did for me,” Gerrard said of Houllier, via the Daily Mail.

“He changed me as a person, he helped me a lot as a player. He really improved my game intelligence and what it takes to stay at the top level.

“He went out of his way to talk to my parents, to see what I was eating and how I was getting on. I used to lean on him for advice. And his advice to me was always, ‘Go and be the best version of yourself and you won’t go too far wrong’.”

Gerrard was developed by Houllier as a young player at Liverpool | Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

Earlier in the week, Gerrard said that he accepted the Villa job because it was ‘too big’ to turn down.

Now, as he prepares for his first match, he has described himself as ‘ambitious as anyone’.

“[Playing in Europe] is the dream and the long-term goal here. We’ll try to provide that as quickly as possible. This club has a fantastic history and connection with Europe from many years ago,” he said. "...[but] my focus now needs to turn to the Premier League and FA Cup in the short term.”

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Source : 90min