Christian “Chucho” Benitez, one of the mainstays of the Ecuadorian national soccer team and a new member of Qatari club El Jaish, died on Monday. He was 27. The cause of death hasn't been confirmed, though some initial reports said his father-in-law said Benitez passed away after complications relating to appendicitis.
News of Benitez’ death spread through Twitter, where “Chucho Benitez” was trending on Monday morning. His death was also confirmed on Ecuadorian radio.
Among those tweeting about Benitez’ death was Miami Beach-based soccer announcer Juan Arango. He said Benitez’ father-in-law, Cleber Chalá, said the former Club America star was admitted to a Qatari hospital with appendicitis, which led to complications that snowballed into respiratory arrest.
Born in Quito, Ecuador in 1986, Benitez had a successful soccer career that started with El Nacional in 2004. The striker scored 29 goals during his time with the Quito-based club. In the 2009-2010 season, Benitez was on loan to English Premiere League club Birmingham City, where he scored three goals in 30 appearances.
In 2011, Benitez signed with Club America, one of the most successful soccer teams in Mexico’s Liga MX. He left America after the 2012-2013 season and signed a contract with El Jaish in July.
Tributes to Benitez flooded Twitter after fans learned of the striker’s passing.
RIP Chucho Benitez , thanks for the Many goals that has Helped Ecuador be what they are now. never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/oumCFRELKQ
â€” Adrian S (@AdrianS_mu) July 29, 2013
Sad to hear that Christian "Chucho" Benítez passed away, way to young! #RIPChucho
â€” Marius Bismo (@mariusbismo) July 29, 2013
Wow. Chucho Benitez has passed away. Terrible news, 27 years old. RIP Campeón.
â€” Paul Sarahs (@Wanchope_Dickov) July 29, 2013