Ecuador striker Christian Benitez, also known as "Chucho", passed away Monday morning, his agent and the national team coordinator have confirmed.
The 27-year-old's sad death is a huge shock, and has come about after complications relating to appendicitis, according to his father-in-law. The disease then became peritonitis before leading to respiratory arrest.
Benitez played for El Nacional and Santos Laguna in his career before a season on loan at Birmingham City in the Premier League, before returning to Mexico with Club America before joining El Jaish in the Qatari league. He also played at the 2006 World Cup for his country, picking up 58 caps in his career.
The highly-talented striker's surprise death will come as a huge blow to football. Antonio Valencia, a close friend of the striker, took to Twitter earlier to tweet his condolences to his family and mourn his death as reports began to filter through, which were confirmed by the player's club, agent, and father-in-law.