Former Birmingham City striker Christian Benitez has died at the age of 27.
The Ecuador international had recently joined Qatari side El Jaish Sports Club from Mexican outfit Santos Laguna.
He returned to parent side Santos back in 2010 after the Blues decided against a permanent deal for the striker.
The news of his death was broken this morning by El Jarish, who only signed the player on July 6th. The official cause of death was originally unknown, but the Ecuador Football Federation have since said that the player died of heart failure. He was admitted to hospital with severe stomach pains after making his debut for his new club on Sunday, and died hours later, the BBC reports.
"Benitez had recently joined the club from Club America for three seasons. The player participated for the first time with the team during yesterday's match against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheikh Jassem Cup without complaining of any health problems.
"His sudden departure is a big shock for each member of the technical and administrative staff. He was a player that over the short period he was here was regarded for his high moral character."
Birmingham will mark the player's death ahead of Saturday's Championship match against Watford at St Andrew's with a minute of silence.
A statement from the club said: "The thoughts of all associated with the club are with Chucho's family and friends at this very sad time.
"The Ecuador international was an immensely popular character during his time at the club."
Benitez's former Birmingham team-mate Craig Gardner, who has since joined Sunderland, Tweeted earlier today: "Cannot believe Christian Benitez has died.
"I had the pleasure to play with him. He was a top bloke. My thoughts go out to his family."
Benitez scored four goals in 36 appearances during his time in England, and appeared in the 2006 World Cup in Germany as a substitute in his country's defeat against the hosts.
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