Christian Benitez, an Ecuador striker who scored the most goals in the Mexican league last season, died Monday a day after playing his first game for his club in Qatar. He was 27.
The Qatari club El Jaish provided no details about the death but said Benitez did not complain about his health Sunday. The team is awaiting a medical report.
Their statement said: “The club would like to offer its sincere condolences to the family of the player.
Benitez was admitted to hospital with severe stomach pain hours after making his debut against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheikh Jassim Cup but died shortly afterwards.
El Jaish played Qatar Sports in the Sheik Jassim Cup, a warm up tournament for the upcoming seasonand it was Benitez’s first game with his new team.
“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 joined El Jaish on July 6 from Ecuadorian side Club America in a deal worth almost $15mn. He has had previous spells with South American teams El Nacional, Santos Laguna and England’s Birmingham.
Benitez, who played 58 times for Ecuador, was the son of Ermen Benitez, one of his country’s all-time leading goal-scorers.
Benitez also spent a season in England with Birmingham. In Mexico, he played with one of the country’s most popular teams. On its website the team mourned ”one of the most recent America idols, and shares the sorrow felt by the entire Benitez Betancourt family, and the sport in Mexico, Ecuador and the world.”
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