Thierry Henry has stepped down as head coach of CF Montréal due to family reasons, the club announced Thursday.
Henry spent one season as head coach of Montréal after taking over ahead of the 2020 campaign. He had an 8-13-2 record in MLS, guiding his club to the Audi MLS Cup playoffs as well as the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions League.
“It is with a heavy heart that I’ve decided to take this decision,” Henry said in a club statement. “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 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 Montréal."
Henry inherited a Montréal squad that missed the playoffs in 2019 then sold their best player before the season, Ignacio Piatti, as well as another Designated Player during the season in Saphir Taider. Their season ended in heartbreaking fashion, losing to a goal deep in stoppage time against the New England Revolution in the Play-In round.
“Thierry's departure is unfortunate and premature because this was very promising, but he informed me of his desire to be back with his family because the situation was and remains very difficult for both him and his family,” said sporting director Olivier Renard. “I want to thank him, first on a human level because he led the players by example last year by being away from his family, but also from a sporting level and for what we have built together since his arrival. We wanted to elevate this club and we are on the right track. The process of finding a new head coach is already underway and I will be looking for someone who is aligned with the philosophy we have implemented.”
After one of the most decorated careers in the history of professional soccer, including four-and-a-half seasons in MLS with the New York Red Bulls, Henry began his coaching career in the academy of English club Arsenal in February 2015. In August of 2016, Henry became assistant coach of the Belgian national team alongside Roberto Martinez and he helped the Red Devils advance to the semifinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, eventually finishing third after defeating England in the third-place match.
"I would like to thank the fans, players and all the staff of this Club that have made me feel so welcome," Henry said. "I would also like to thank Kevin Gilmore, Olivier Renard and of course Joey and all of the Saputo family for giving me this wonderful opportunity. We had an impossible year together and to make the playoffs with this group of people is an experience that I will never forget. Thank you all for being there on this journey and I wish you all the success for the future.”
In previous weeks, Henry had been linked with the managerial vacancy at Championship club Bournemouth, though they announced over the weekend that interim manager Jonathan Woodgate would continue through the end of the season.