MLS: Thierry Henry steps down as Montreal coach to spend time with kids

Henry said: '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 this season the situation will be no different. The separation is too much of a strain for me and my kids.'

Agence France-Presse February 26, 2021 00:18:32 IST
MLS: Thierry Henry steps down as Montreal coach to spend time with kids

File image of Montreal coach Thierry Henry. AFP

Montreal: Thierry Henry has stepped down from his role as coach of CF Montreal for family reasons, the Major League Soccer outfit announced on Thursday.

"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.

They played just three fixtures at their own Stade Saputo as a result.

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.

Before that he worked as a youth coach at Arsenal and then as assistant coach to Roberto Martinez with the Belgian national team as they finished third at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

His Montreal side last season featured the likes of Kenyan former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama and ex-Barcelona striker Bojan Krkic.

Sole focus is family

Earlier this month it was reported that Bournemouth were keen to appoint Henry as they seek to make an immediate return to the English Premier League.

However last weekend they named Jonathan Woodgate as their head coach until the end of this season.

"Bournemouth was nothing but a rumor," Gilmore said. "No one contacted us asking for permission to talk to him. There was no discussions between Thierry and the club.

"We're parting on very good terms," Gilmore added suggesting that if Henry lands with a club in England "in the near future" Montreal would receive "some sort of compensation."

"But I'll tell you right now: There's nothing on his mind in respect to what he's going to do next. His sole focus is on his children and family."

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