He was a manager with an almost pathological dislike of specialist fullbacks who replaced shrewd strategy with hugs and kisses yet could still outshine some of his players on the training pitch with precision free kicks. So when the Argentine Football Federation decided not to renew the contract of Diego Armando Maradona, the world of sport became a little less colourful. South Africa 2010 will be remembered as much for the captivating sideline theatrics of the Albiceleste coach as for the vuvuzelas, makarapas and Jabulanis. Fittingly going out in a blaze of controversy, Maradona accused senior officials Carlos Bilardo and Julio Grondona of lying, betrayal and plotting against him in a departure linked to the culling of his backroom staff. Watching with more than a passing interest from Singapore was his former international teammate, Ossie Ardiles, with whom Maradona played at the 1982 World Cup. Ardiles was a special guest at the annual Soccerex seminar, appearing on a panel with former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson and ex-Liverpool assistant coach Phil Thompson. 'Obviously, [Maradona] didn't have an easy time as the manager of Argentina,' Ardiles said. 'There are mixed emotions for him and supporters as it was a very difficult World Cup. 'It wasn't a bad tournament for Argentina because for me there were only two teams who stood out - Spain and Germany - and countries like France, Italy and even Holland must be disappointed. Argentina lost to a strong German team and there are many positives to be taken from their overall performance.' Ardiles can relate to the attacking instincts of Maradona's side as they smashed 10 goals in their first four matches before a spectacular 4-0 defeat to Germany in an unforgettable quarter-final. As one of the first prominent foreign players in the English top flight with Tottenham and then as a manager of clubs that included Spurs, Newcastle United and Swindon Town, Ardiles brought a sizzling style to British football. In 1994 he created a stir at Spurs by playing five forwards at once - including former German star Juergen Klinsmann alongside England internationals Teddy Sheringham and Nick Barmby - as caution, and perhaps common sense, went out the window. Since being fired from White Hart Lane in October 1994, the 57-year-old has held 10 different managerial positions in countries that include Israel, Syria and Mexico. He was also a coach in the J-League on three occasions, most recently in 2005 with Tokyo Verdy 1969. But he still feels a deep connection to the club he joined in 1978 and for which he made more than 200 league appearances. 'I am very happy Tottenham Hotspur are playing in the Champions League this season as it has been a long, long time coming and it's well-deserved,' he said. 'There are many wonderful memories I have of being part of Spurs, but if you ask me the best it would have to be winning the 1981 FA Cup. It was a special moment for me, the club and everyone involved.' Ardiles' first spell at Spurs was famously interrupted in 1982 by the Falklands war when he was sent on-loan to Paris Saint-Germain because of a feared backlash from over-patriotic supporters. He returned to help the club win the 1984 Uefa Cup. His enduring popularity around the world saw him travel to the 2010 World Cup as a television pundit for Irish network RTE and to Asia for the two-day Soccerex forum, a networking event for the sport's movers and shakers. With Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam in attendance, Ardiles made encouraging noises about soccer's advance in the region. 'Asian players are getting stronger technically, physically and mentally,' he said. 'Take Japan as an example: 25 years ago they had not featured in the World Cup, but using the right techniques, the J-League has grown and Japan has now featured in a few World Cups. 'Playing with a good system, Japan and South Korea both did well in South Africa and may have been a bit unlucky not to progress further.' Ardiles said he believed China needed to work harder to develop players from a young age and Asian football would take many more years to match the game in Europe. Inevitably, the conversation swung back to his old friend Maradona, with whom he played much of the latter part of his international career, winning 63 caps between 1973 and 1982. At Spain '82, a talent-laden Argentina side also underperformed and were knocked out in the second round after Ardiles watched Maradona receive a late red-card in a 3-1 defeat to Brazil in Barcelona. 'It is good for Diego that he didn't get a new coaching contract because the job just would have worn him out mentally and physically,' he said. 'As for what's next for him, including a possible club job, it's hard to know. One thing we all know about Diego is that he's a very unpredictable character.'