Football: Ex-Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier is Tampines Rovers envoy, calls Singapore 'unique footballing nation'

Gerard Houllier has signed on as an international ambassador for the Stags.
Gerard Houllier has signed on as an international ambassador for the Stags.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Following the capture of Jermaine Pennant, Tampines Rovers have added a second former Liverpool man to their ranks - albeit one in a non-playing capacity.

Gerard Houllier, who won six titles during a six-year managerial spell at Anfield, has signed on as an international ambassador for the Stags.

The 68-year-old Frenchman told The Straits Times: "Singapore is a unique footballing nation and I am delighted to serve as an International Ambassador to one of Singapore's leading football clubs, Tampines Rovers.

"I hope I can provide some guidance to the Singapore footballing fraternity as a whole.

"Football is becoming increasingly international and it is useful to have an understanding of modern football trends."

The partnership will allow Tampines to consult the Frenchman on anything football-related, from youth development to more technical aspects of the game like coaching strategies.

He will not, however, influence first-team affairs, which are under the charge of coach V. Sundramoorthy.

The former Aston Villa manager will also be in Singapore - either in September or December - to hold seminars for local coaches.

The Houllier coup is the latest in a series of international moves by Tampines in their bid to raise the profile of Singapore football.

Last December, they partnered Brazilian World Cup winner and two-time World Footballer of the Year Ronaldinho to launch a football academy here.

A month later, they set pulses racing with the signing of Pennant, arguably the biggest signing in the S-League's 20-year history.

Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra said: "What I am trying to create in Singapore football is a belief that it is good enough to attract talent ranging from Ronaldinho, Pennant to Houllier.

"So we must take this initiative and make the most of it in the coming months and to sustain the local football revival we are witnessing."

Ramachandra said it was Football Association of Singapore technical director Michel Sablon who put him in touch with Houllier.

The corporate lawyer added that while the deal is between Tampines and Houllier, the club will not "jealously guard" the former France technical director.

"He is a respected football intellectual and I want to make him available to the whole footballing fraternity. We need to share his ideas and thoughts with everyone," said Ramachandra.

Besides coaching Liverpool from 1998 to 2004 (the Reds won a Cup treble in 2001), Houllier also led the French national team from 1992 to 1993.

In 1994, he took charge of the France Under-18s and led them to the European U-18 Football Championship title two years later.

A highly respected figure in the football world, he also won three French league titles (1986, 2006, 2007) and was part of the France coaching team when they won the World Cup on home ground in 1998.