Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda, who is general manager of Cambodia’s national team, on Tuesday announced he will leave Melbourne Victory this week after one season as he pursues new challenges.
The former AC Milan striker, one of the highest profile names in Asian football, was an instant hit with fans, with his early season form drawing rave reviews.
However, a hamstring injury kept him sidelined for nine matches mid-season.
“I am proud to have been a Melbourne Victory player and grateful for having the opportunity to play in Australia,” Honda said in a statement.
“I leave now for my next challenge but will never forgot my time at Victory. I wish the club good luck in the future as they pursue success.”
He played 23 games across all competitions, scoring eight times, with his last appearance on Wednesday in their AFC Champions League clash with Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
His announcement came a day after long-time Victory head coach Kevin Muscat quit.
“Keisuke has been a professional in every sense of the word, and we’ve been lucky to have him with us at Melbourne Victory this season,” club chief executive Trent Jacobs said.
“He’s obviously an incredible talent on the pitch, however the impact he’s had on our club off the field has aided our growth this season.”
The talismanic 32-year-old, who retired from international football after last year’s World Cup in Russia, joined Victory for the 2018/19 season as a free agent after departing Mexican club Pachuca.
Instantly recognisable with his spiky, bleach-blond hair, he spent four seasons at AC Milan and has also played for VVV-Venlo in Holland and CSKA Moscow.
He juggled his stint in Melbourne with duties as general manager of Cambodia’s struggling national team.