Jose Antonio Camacho announced his decision to step down after four years in charge of the Spanish national team on Tuesday.
"Life is made up of many stages and in my case I think that one of those has come to an end," he told reporters at a press conference in Madrid.
The 47-year-old said that the fact that he missed the daily involvement of coaching a club side was the determining factor in his decision to give up his post two years before his contract was due to expire.
"I have thought it over very carefully and to wait another two years for the European championships and another two for the World Cup would be too long for me and I need to have the day-to-day motivation of coaching," he added.
Camacho said there was nothing suspicious about his early departure, insisting he had been happy working with the national squad.
"I have enjoyed my work and the time I have been here at the federation has been fantastic," he said.
"Don't look for any hidden reason because there isn't one. I have been at a European championship, a World Cup and now I have to wait and start again. If things hadn't finished well I wouldn't be here now."
Camacho, who took over from Javier Clemente in 1998 after a 3-2 defeat to Cyprus in the qualification for Euro 2000, guided the Spanish team to the quarter-finals of last month's World Cup where they were knocked out by co-hosts South Korea in a penalty shoot-out.
Spain laid part of the blame for their defeat on the referee who ruled out what appeared to be two perfectly legal goals during the match.
"I believe that the national side is not dependent on the coach," said Camacho. "All I think they need is that little bit of luck that we have been missing in the past."
Spanish Football Federation president Angel Maria Villar, who said he had found out about the decision on his way back from Japan on Monday night, said he regretted but respected Camacho's decision.
"I am very sad that he is leaving us because we have had a very special relationship," he said.
"I like the way he has behaved and the way he has run things and I would like to reiterate my thanks for everything he has done. I wish him all the success in his future professional activity."
Under-21 coach Inaki Saez will act as a caretaker boss until the federation makes a permanent appointment.
There is likely to be no shortage of candidates for the vacant post but the federation could find it difficult to prise them away from their clubs.
The highly experienced Atletico Madrid boss Luis Aragones, who has admitted he regretted turning the post down in 1998, may now be back in the frame.
Deportivo Coruna coach Javier Irureta and former Celta Vigo boss Victor Fernandez, who has recently taken charge at Real Betis, also have strong credentials, but both clubs are likely to put up a fight to keep their men.
Camacho, meanwhile, admitted that he may have missed out on a club job for the coming season.
"Most of the teams have now got a coach and I am going to take my time and then think over any possible offers," he said.
"I have acted with honour because I was showered with offers before and I did not accept them because I was involved in the World Cup."
As a player he made his name as a hard-nosed defender for Real Madrid, winning nine league titles and two UEFA Cups with the club, and he has made no secret of the fact that one day he would like to return to take charge of the club.
He was briefly appointed coach of Real in 1998 but resigned 22 days later after a row over backroom staff.