Steven Gerrard is backing his former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier to be successful at Aston Villa after revealing he was "desperate" to return to the Barclays Premier League.
Houllier has finally been confirmed as Martin O'Neill's successor after quitting as technical director of the French Football Federation.
He is expected to be formally unveiled at a press conference on Friday before taking charge for the first time in Monday's league encounter at Stoke.
Houllier gave Gerrard his debut at Anfield more than a decade ago and the England skipper has nothing but praise for the Frenchman who spent six years on Merseyside.
He told Press Association Sport: "I've still got quite a close relationship with Gerard. He gave me my chance at the top level and I certainly learnt an awful lot from him.
"Aston Villa have got themselves a very good manager and I am not surprised Gerard has come back into the Premier League. I know how much he loves football. He has been desperate to get back involved in the Premier League so it is no surprise to me."