MONTREAL (AFP) - Thierry Henry has stepped down from his role as coach of CF Montreal for family reasons, the Major League Soccer outfit announced on Thursday (Feb 25).
"It is with a heavy heart that I've decided to take this decision," said the former Arsenal and France striker in a statement released by the club and posted on his own Twitter feed.
"The last year has been an extremely difficult one for me personally. Due to the worldwide pandemic, I was unable to see my children.
"Unfortunately due to the ongoing restrictions and the fact that we will have to relocate to the US again for several months, the situation will be no different.
"The separation is too much of a strain for me and my kids. Therefore, it is with much sadness that I must take the decision to return to London and leave CF Montreal."
Montreal chief executive Kevin Gilmore admitted on a virtual conference call that he was "surprised" that Henry, appointed in November 2019 with a two-year deal, was departing.
"Obviously our plan was to bring Thierry here for the long-term, in partnership with (sporting director) Olivier (Renard) to build the identity of a successful franchise.
"But I'm not surprised by the circumstances," he added.
"Very few people can appreciate how difficult last year was for people at this club, having to live 'home' away from home, out of hotels and suitcases with the expectation to continue to do your job at the best of your ability without factoring in the mental toll this takes on people," Gilmore said.
Henry's first season was complicated by pandemic travel restrictions which forced the team to relocate to the United States to play games.
As a result, they played just three fixtures at their own Stade Saputo.
The Canadians finished ninth in the Eastern Conference of the MLS before losing at the first hurdle in the play-offs, while they lost in the quarter-finals of the Concacaf Champions League.
Henry, who is Arsenal's all-time record goal scorer and also the all-time top scorer for France, previously spent three troubled months in charge at Monaco between October 2018 and January 2019.