Argentina coach Alfio Basile quit on Thursday, the day after an embarrassing 2010 World Cup qualifying defeat to Chile, the Argentina Football Association (AFA) said.
Basile's sudden decision to end his second stint in the job came after his repeated failure to galvanise a team that boasts some of the world's most talented players, including Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.
"Basile spoke to the AFA president [Julio Grondona] and quit for personal reasons," spokesman Ernesto Cherquis told reporters.
"The national teams committee tried to persuade him to postpone his decision but Basile was very decided, very determined.....and against a man who has made up his mind and has Basile's dignity, we were swimming against the tide.
"The resignation has been accepted," added Cherquis. "He had pain in his heart."
Basile, who with his slicked-back hair and gravel-voice appeared to have stepped out of a 1950s tango club, was seen as a romantic who wanted his team to play with style.
However, critics said in recent matches his team had lost their way and were over dependent on Juan Roman Riquelme, a gifted but inconsistent playmaker.
Appointed in July 2006, Basile quit just after the halfway mark in the 18-match South American 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign with Argentina third in the 10-team group on 16 points, ahead of Chile on goal difference, but seven behind leaders Paraguay.
The top four teams qualify directly for South Africa and the fifth plays off against the fourth-placed team from the North and Central American CONCACAF region.
Basile, appointed in July 2006, was in charge for 28 games, winning 14, drawing eight and losing six.
The high point was a run of five stylish wins at last year's Copa America. However the campaign ended with a crushing 3-0 defeat to arch-rivals Brazil in the final as Argentina extended their 14-year wait for a trophy.
Things began to go wrong this year with a run of six successive draws, four in the qualifiers and two in friendlies.
The team appeared to have weathered the storm with a 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay on Saturday.
However, media said that Basile appeared shocked by the angry reaction to Wednesday's 1-0 defeat when Argentina were outclassed by a Chilean side led by their former coach Marcelo Bielsa.
Messi said in an interview that Argentina played badly and were at sixes and sevens.
During his previous stints, Basile won the Copa America in 1991 and 1993 but was also in charge for a historic 5-0 home defeat by Colombia in a World Cup qualifier.
His team reached the second round at the 1994 World Cup where they lost to Romania.