Cambodian national football team general manager and former Japanese international Keisuke Honda has ended his spell as player of Melbourne Victory in the Australian A-League.
Melbourne Victory yesterday today confirmed that the 2018/19 marquee signing will play his last game for the club tonight in its final AFC Champions League fixture against Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
“Honda joined Melbourne Victory in August of 2018 and made an instant impression on his new teammates, fans and the Hyundai A-League as a whole, reads a club statement.
His early season form drew rave reviews from fans and he was duly recognised with the first PFA Player of the Month award for the season.
A hamstring injury kept Honda sidelined for nine matches mid-season but the midfielder still made 23 appearances for Victory across all competitions this season, scoring eight times.
“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,” Melbourne Victory CEO 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. He’s been a fan favourite and has drawn new crowds to not only our matches but our digital platforms.
“We thank Keisuke for his services throughout the past year and wish him all the best for the future.”
Commenting on his time in Melbourne, Honda, 32, thanked the members and fans for supporting both him and Victory this season.
“I am proud to have been a Melbourne Victory player and grateful for having the opportunity to play in Australia,” Honda said.
“I leave now for my next challenge but will never forget my time at Victory. I wish the club good luck in the future as they pursue success.”
Football observers from around the world reacted with a mixture of astonishment and bemusement after Honda was unveiled as Cambodia’s general manager last August. He was handed a two-year unpaid contract and also serves as cultural ambassador, highlighting the natural beauty of the kingdom.
Upon his appointment Football Federation of Cambodia President General Sokha stated; “Keisuke Honda leading the Cambodian national team is very important for two reasons. One is to create a clear Cambodian national style of football,” said Mr Sokha.
“The second point is to help spread Cambodia’s culture to the world. I would like to thank Mr. Honda, he volunteers to contribute to the Cambodian Football Federation, and especially to our national team. We are aware that Honda is busy but he still tries to help Cambodia.”