Ecuador's Christian 'Chucho' Benitez Passes Away at the Age of 27

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IJuly 30, 2013

BOCA RATON, FL - MAY 29: Cristian Benitez #11 of Ecuador brings the ball upfield against Germany during an International friendly on May 29, 2013 at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida. Germany defeated Ecuador 4-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Talented Ecuadorian soccer player Christian Benitez died suddenly on Sunday night at the age of 27. 

BBC Sport has the sad news:

Former Birmingham striker Christian Benitez has died at the age of 27.

The Ecuador international was admitted to hospital with severe stomach pains shortly after making his debut for Qatari side El Jaish on Sunday.

His heart failed hours later, the Ecuador Football Federation said.

Benitez, who was more commonly known as "Chucho," was once one of the more intriguing young strikers in the world, and he went on to enjoy an incredibly prolific career. 

He was one of the most dangerous goalscorers in all of Mexico before eventually making the switch to El Jaish this summer.

He led the Clausura MX in goals for three consecutive seasons, and most recently, he helped Club America to a win over Cruz Azul in the Clausura championship. 

Before that, he enjoyed similar success with El Nacional and Santos Laguna, and even earned a loan to English side Birmingham City. 

Benitez had also showcased his burgeoning talent with Ecuador on the international level, appearing in the 2006 World Cup and establishing himself as a major force during both 2010 and 2014 World Cup qualifying. 

Since the start of 2012, he scored an impressive eight goals for Ecuador, including seven in World Cup qualifying. 

Unsurprisingly with the death of such a young, talented person, there has been a lot of outpouring of emotion. 

His new club, El Jaish, released a statement, via BBC Sport, offering "its sincere condolences to the family of the player." The club also noted that Benitez, who was with the team for less than a month, "was regarded for his high moral character."

Benitez's countryman and friend, Antonio Valencia, said, per CNN, "This pain (is) very strong my brother but we love you" in a tweet. 

He went on to post many pictures of Benitez. 

Benitez's former teammate at Birmingham, Lee Carsley, told BBC Sport in an interview that this is "devastating news," recalling Benitez's outstanding ability and free spirit.