This afternoon brought the completely unexpected and shocking news of the passing of Christian ‘Chucho’ Benitez, aged just twenty-seven.
The striker suffered cardiorespiratory arrest after being admitted to hospital for stomach pains just hours after making his debut for Qatari club Al Jaish.
The Ecuadorian international is well known in Birmingham, after playing for the Blues during the 09/10 season on a season long loan.
Although only playing for Blues for one season, Chucho was a popular player down at St. Andrew’s and the news has completely stunned not just Bluenoses but the whole of the football community, who remember his time playing in the Premier League.
The pint-sized striker was an integral part of Alex McLeish’s team in the 2009/10 season, helping his side in their unbeaten run and leading them to a 9th placed Premier League finish.
A skillful and creative player, the St. Andrew’s faithful took to Chucho straight away and many wanted him to stay on further than his one season loan deal, but unfortunately a deal couldn’t be struck for the creative striker who returned to his parent club back in Mexico.
One thing about Chucho was that you could not doubt his passion for the game, forever playing with a smile on his face, and finishing his loan spell with Blues with - finally - a goal at St. Andrew's on his birthday no less, and celebrating like he had just won the league.
Although only scoring four goals in his time in a royal blue shirt, Chucho was known for setting up goals for his team mates; a compilation tribute video to him created by Blues which can be seen here sums him up as a player - and what a player he was.
Tributes have been pouring in ever since the news broke, with football fans from all leagues stunned to hear the news of Chucho's passing. I’d like to send my condolences to his family at this awful time. Rest In Peace Chucho.