Christian Benitez, who played for Birmingham City in 2009/10, has passed away in Qatar.
Chucho, who had joined El Jaish in the Qatari league, was taken to the hospital due to abdominal pain on Monday morning.
According the Ecuadorian media, the striker suffered appendicitis that led to peritonitis, causing a cardiopulmonary arrest.
Benitez, probably the most ferocious Ecuadorian striker in recent times, was introduced to the club three weeks ago and played his last professional match in the 2-0 victory against Qatar Sports Club on Sunday.
Just before joining the Qatari league, he was champion with Club America in the last Mexican Torneo Clausura, becoming the top scorer leader during the last three seasons and certainly one of the most prominent players in the team.
Feared by goalkeepers and defenders in the Mexican league, Benitez was taken on loan to Birmingham City in 2009 where he played just for a single season, scoring four goals in 36 appearances.
He represented the Ecuadorian national team in 58 matches and scored 24 times and was well-known in the 2006 World Cup in Germany when he received a nomination to the Gillette best young player award.
During the current 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, he had scored four goals and was definitely an essential piece in the team. His most recent celebration was in the 4-1 victory against Paraguay in Quito on March 26th 2013.
Former teammates and clubs have expressed through social networks their condolences to his family and friends. Chucho will live long in the football memory as an excellent striker, and even better person.
Christian Benitez career history:
Clubs: El Nacional (Ecu), Santos Laguna (Mex) Birmingham City (Eng) America (Mex) El Jaish (Qat)
Titles: Ecuadorian League: 2005 and 2006, Liga MX: 2008 and 2013
Individuals: Best player in the Ecuadorian League 2006, Best player in the Mexican League 2008 and 2012, Top Scorer in the Mexican League 2010, Clausura 2012, Apertura 2012 and Clausura 2013.
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