Former Birmingham City striker Christian Benitez dies aged 27

Benitez spent the 2009/10 season on loan at Birmingham. Photo: PA

Ecuador striker Christian Benitez died this morning after suffering a cardiorespiratory arrest, less than a month after signing for Qatari club Al Jaish.

Benitez was admitted to hospital with severe stomach pain hours after making his debut against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheikh Jassem Cup but died shortly afterwards. He was 27.

Benitez joined El Jaish earlier in July from Club America, after previous spells with El Nacional, Santos Laguna and Birmingham.

The FEF regrets to inform you of the death of Christian Benitez, the striker of Qatar club Al Jaish and the Ecuador national team.

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.

– Statement from the Ecuadorian FA

He was a regular for his country, scoring 24 goals in 58 appearances and making the Ecuador squad for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

El Jaish earlier released a statement confirming Benitez's tragic passing.

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.

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.

– El Jaish club statement
Benitez celebrates scoring against Everton in the FA Cup in January 2010. Credit: PA