Striker Christian "Chucho" Benitez of Ecuador died Monday, his agent and the national team coordinator confirmed.
Benitez was 27.
The death was a shock to his family and team, and came after complications related to appendicitis. He had been rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pain.
Doctors discovered his appendicitis had become peritonitis, which led to the respiratory arrest that ended his life, his father-in-law said.
Benitez played for El Nacional in Ecuador and Santos Laguna in Mexico before a season at Birmingham City in the Premier League. He later returned to Mexico with Club America. He also played at the 2006 World Cup for his home Ecuador.
At the time of his death, he was playing in the Qatari league with Eljaish. He had played his first game with the club the day before he died. No information has been released to determine whether conditions in Qatar were a factor in his death. Benitez had not previously complained about health problems.
Eljaish management extends their sincere condolenses to the family of the late football player,Christian Benitez who passed away Today.— Eljaish Sports Club (@EljaishSC) July 29, 2013
Several of his former and current teammates have tweeted their condolences, including Craig Gardner.
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— Craig Gardner (@CraigGards8) July 29, 2013