Jul 30, 2013, 7:25 PM EDT
With the soccer world still reeling following the shocking death of Christian Benitez, people across the globe have been honoring the Ecuadorian international.
Benitez died at the age of 27 on Monday, as his heart stopped just hours after his debut for Qatar’s El Jaish. According to the Associated Press, Benitez’s funeral will be held in his native Ecuador on Thursday.
Also known as ‘Chucho’, Benitez had been playing in El Jaish’s 2-0 win against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheikh Jassem Cup. It was his first game for his new team following a $16 million move from Mexican giants Club América.
It is thought Benitez was suffering from intense stomach and chest pains before his heart stopped following the game for new team El Jaish. Former teammates, clubs and friends have been speaking out following the forwards death and many plan to honor Chucho at games around the world this weekend.
Chucho’s talent was undoubted and last season with América was his most successful, as he hit 30 goals in 43 games and led the Mexico City based club to the 2013 Clausura title.
President of the Ecuadorian Football Federation, Luis Chiriboga Acosta, had this to say yesterday.
This morning we woke feeling profound pain, a pain that all Ecuadorians share, after losing an extraordinary human being, a son, friend, husband and player.
Benitez was the son of Ermen Benitez, one of Ecuador’s all-time leading goalscorers and the entire country has been shocked by the death of their superstar player. Benitez was capped 58 times by his country and scored 24 goals.
Birmingham City, who Benitez played for during the 2009-10 season, will hold a minute’s silence before Saturday’s game against Watford, while Birmingham’s players will wear black armbands in respect.
The English side said this in a statement: “Everybody associated with the club was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chucho, the Ecuador international was an immensely popular character at St. Andrew’s. A large number of supporters have contacted the club expressing a desire to celebrate Chucho’s time at Blues with a minute’s applause in the 11th minute to mark the striker’s squad number.”
While soccer players around the world took to Twitter to honor Benitez’ memory.
Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand
RIP Christian Benitez, sad to hear the terrible news.—
Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) July 29, 2013
Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed after suffering a heart attack whilst playing for Bolton vs. Spurs in 2012 and had to retire from soccer
Just heard the sad news about Christian Benitez … my thoughts and prayers are with his family—
fabrice muamba (@fmuamba) July 29, 2013
While Antonio Valencia, teammates with Benitez for Ecuador, has asked Manchester United to let him leave preseason to attend Benitez funeral in South America.
A humbling response from the global soccer community for a talented man who was taken from us far too soon.
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