Ecuador international football player Christian Benitez, the striker popularly known as 'Chucho,' has died at the age of 27.
Benitez was admitted to hospital Monday after stomach pains, a day after his debut against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheikh Jassem Cup. According to Jose Chamorro, the player's agent, hours later Benitez suffered a heart attack and died in the hospital.
"The FEF regrets to inform you of the death of Christian Benitez, the striker of Qatar club Al Jaish and the Ecuador national team," said a statement from the Ecuador Football Federation (FEF).
"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."
The news shocked his football colleagues. "This pain (is) very strong my brother but we love you," wrote Manchester United star Antonio Valencia, who played with the striker a decade ago, in his Twitter account.
Benitez played at the 2006 World Cup as youngster and developed as an important component of an Ecuadorian side bidding to reach next year's World Cup finals in Brazil.
He was the third highest scorer overall for Ecuador's national team.
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