|Sensation: Benitez netted 52 goals in 79 appearances for Club America before leaving for El Jaish|
'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.'
El Nacional (Ecuador) 2004-07 - 84games (29goals)
Santos Laguna (Mexico) 2007-11 95games (51goals)
Birmingham City (UK - loan) 2009-10 36games (4goals)
Club America (Mexico) 2011-13 79games (52goals)
El Jaish (Qatar) 2013
El Jaish also released a statement confirming the news. It said: '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.
|Tragic: Christian Benitez, in action for Birmingham, has died aged 27 after suffering a heart attack|
Benitez, nicknamed 'Chucho', was on loan at St. Andrew's for the 2009-10 season, making 36 appearances for the Blues. He won 58 caps for Ecuador, including appearances at the 2006 World Cup.
Manchester United winger Antonia Valencia led the tributes to his compatriot. Valencia took to Twitter to pay his respects, including posting a touching photo of the pair together.
Valenica posted in Spanish: 'Forever you'll be my brother, this pain hurts so much but brother we love you.'
As tributes for Benitez from around the game began to pour in, it became clear that the striker had an impact on team-mates during his short time in Birmingham.
The club released a statement to mark their former striker's passing, saying: 'Birmingham City Football Club is saddened to learn of the passing of former striker Christian 'Chucho' Benitez.
'The thoughts of all associated with the football club are with Chucho's family and friends at this very sad time.
'Chucho's passing will now be marked at St. Andrew's ahead of Saturday's fixture against Watford.
'The Ecuador international was an immensely-popular character during his time at the football club. During a season-long loan from Mexican club Santos Laguna in 2009/10, Chucho made 36 appearances scoring four goals.
Former Blues star Craig Gardner took to his Twitter account to register his condolences, posting: '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.'
Another member of the Birmingham team that Benitez played in, Gary McSheffrey, also posted his tribute. He posted: 'Can't believe the news I've just heard about my former team mate chucho (Christian Benitez) such sad news. R.I.P'
And Jack Butland posted: 'Devastated to hear of the passing of Christian Benitez at 27! Such a cool, calm and polite guy! My prayers go out to his loved ones #chucho'
Monaco's £52million star signing Falcao also posted his condolences in Spanish, saying his thoughts were with the Ecuadorian's family.
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