Before Liverpool, Gerard Houllier almost became Sheffield Wednesday manager…

The sad news was reported today that former Liverpool manager, Gerard Houllier OBE, has passed away at the age of 73 after reportedly having a heart operation.

Monday, 14th December 2020, 11:01 am

Houllier won the FA Cup, two League Cups, the UEFA Cup and Super Cup as well as the Charity Shield during his time with the Reds, but he very nearly ended up with Sheffield Wednesday before heading to Anfield.

Wednesday were on the lookout for a new boss in 1998 after Ron Atkinson had just left the club, and Houllier was on their radar as they sought to continue their spell in the Premier League towards the turn of the millennium.

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As Tom Whitworth's book, 'Sheffield Wednesday: Through the Modern Era’, explained how the Frenchman almost made it to Hillsborough prior to what became a very successful spell in Merseyside – the Owls, meanwhile, took on Danny Wilson.

Houllier said, "I knew the club and I knew some of the players. And I had a good relationship with Dave Richards… He was very keen to sign me.

"I explained a few ideas of how I wanted the team to play and things like that and I had a good feeling about what we could do at Sheffield Wednesday. I practically gave my agreement to join."

Houllier wanted a ‘divorce clause’ in his contract where he’d have been paid out if fired, saying he was keen to have ‘protection for myself’ if he was to be sacked.

Gerard Houllier almost became Sheffield Wednesday manager before joining Liverpool. (Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

He said, "Dave Richards was very good about this part of the negotiations and told me that their lawyer would get in touch to agree the sum of the clause.

"The lawyer came to me, it took him some time to do so, and I said I wanted this amount of money.

"It's not Dave Richards's fault. Unless he gave instructions to the lawyer to make things linger…

"If they had agreed on the terms of the divorce clause, I would have been Sheffield Wednesday manager."

Two years later, Wednesday were relegated from the Premier League not long after firing Wilson, and two decades on are far away from a top-flight return.

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