Melbourne Victory confirmed Australia star Harry Kewell will leave after just one season with the A-League club after he decided to return to England.
Kewell, 33, was set to sign a new two-year contract with Victory, after he activated a clause to terminate his original incentive-based three-year contract in May.
However, his actress wife Sheree Murphy's mother is gravely ill, and he has decided to remain in England with her and their young family for the foreseeable future.
"It was one of the toughest decisions we've had to make. I enjoyed playing for Victory and living in Melbourne, but family comes first and together we made a decision that it was best for us to remain close to our family at this time," Kewell said.
The former Leeds United, Liverpool and Galatasaray ace joined Victory in August last year in the highest profile deal in A-League history, and leaves after scoring eight goals in 25 games during his debut season.
"Harry's a fantastic player and I was looking forward to working with him this season, but he has family matters that need his attention so while it's unfortunate, I completely understand," Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou added.
Victory was informed of the shock decision late on Saturday with Postecoglou saying publicly late last week Kewell was an integral part of his plans next season.
"We'd been working very hard to come to an agreement with him and we were extremely confident both parties were close to finalising the deal, but these things happen and we wish Harry and his family all the best," the two-times A-League championship winning coach added.
Kewell has been linked with Championship side Blackburn Rovers after reports he was at the club's training ground earlier this week.
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