Christian Benitez dies aged 27
Former Birmingham City and Club America striker Christian Benitez has died at the age of 27 after suffering a cardiorespiratory arrest.
Benitez was admitted to hospital with severe stomach pain hours after making his debut against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheikh Jassem Cup but died shortly afterwards.
An Ecuador Football Federation (FEF) statement read: "The FEF regrets to inform you of the death of Christian Benitez, the striker of Qatar club Al Jaish and the Ecuador national team.
"Benitez, who was with his new club in Qatar, had a severe stomach pain, which was why he was rushed to a hospital, where after a few hours suffered he suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest, which ended his life.
"The Ecuadorian Football Federation extends its heartfelt sympathy to the family - parents, wife, children - and friends of our striker Christian Benitez.
"May he rest in peace."
Benitez, who scored 24 goals in 58 appearances for the Ecuadorian national team, had joined El Jaish in Qatar earlier this month.
A statement released by his club read: "The club would like to offer its sincere condolences to the family of the player.
"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."
Benitez began his career with El Nacional in his homeland before moving to Santos Laguna in 2007. He spent time the 2009-10 season on loan with Birmingham, and secured a permanent switch to Club America in 2011. He won the Golden Boot award four times during his career in Mexico.
Manchester United winger and fellow Ecuador international Antonio Valencia tweeted his condolences, writing: “Brother God is with your family we love you.
“For always he is my brother the pain is very strong my brother but we love you.”
Por siempre vas hacer mi hermano este dolor muy fuerte mi hermano pero te queremos pic.twitter.com/lvspu8NXDy— Antonio Valencia (@7AntoV) July 29, 2013
Sunderland midfielder Craig Gardner, who played alongside Benitez at Birmingham, also offered his sympathy.
Can't believe Christian Benitez aka chucho has died had the pleasure to play with him he was a top bloke. My thoughts go out to his family— Craig Gardner (@CraigGards8) July 29, 2013
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.