Christian Benítez

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Christian Benítez
Benítez playing for América in 2012
Personal information
Full name Christian Rogelio Benítez Betancourt
Date of birth (1986-05-01)May 1, 1986
Place of birth Quito, Ecuador
Date of death July 29, 2013(2013-07-29) (aged 27)
Place of death Doha, Qatar
Height 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)[1]
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1997–2005 El Nacional
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2007 El Nacional 84 (29)
2007–2011 Santos Laguna 95 (51)
2009–2010Birmingham City (loan) 30 (3)
2011–2013 América 79 (52)
2013 El Jaish 0 (0)
Total 288 (135)
National team
2005–2013 Ecuador 58[2] (24)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Christian Rogelio Benítez Betancourt (May 1, 1986 – July 29, 2013), also known as Chucho, was an Ecuadorian footballer who played as a forward for El Jaish of the Qatar Stars League at the time of his death.

He began his career with El Nacional in Ecuador and then joined Santos Laguna, with whom he won the award for Best Player of the Clausura 2008.[3] He spent the 2009–10 season on loan to Premier League club Birmingham City, and then moved to Club América for a Mexican record US$10 million, where he was a regular scorer. Benitez played 58 times for the Ecuador national football team from his debut in 2005, scoring 24 goals. He played for them at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and two Copa America tournaments.

Following his death, the Ecuadorian Football Federation retired Benítez's number 11 jersey from the national team.[2] However, due to FIFA regulations they had to reinstate it for the 2014 World Cup squad.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Benitez was born in Quito,[5] the son of former Ecuador international footballer Ermen Benítez,[6] and of Rita Betancourt.[7] In 2007, he married Liseth, daughter of Cléber Chalá, also an Ecuador international;[8] she gave birth to twins in August 2009.[9]

He played under the nickname Chucho, a name "used in the Spanish-speaking Americas when referring affectionately to a small, pesky dog".[10]

Club career[edit]

El Nacional[edit]

Due to a series of strong performances for El Nacional, Benítez was scouted by clubs such as Villarreal CF of Spain,[11] though El Nacional denied any knowledge of the rumoured interest.[12]

By scoring 29 goals in 83 league matches for El Nacional, Benítez won both the 2005 Clausura and 2006 League Championships.

Santos Laguna[edit]

In July 2007, he moved to Santos Laguna of the Mexican Primera División. With his arrival and that of Vicente Matías Vuoso, Santos had an impressive season with wins over several top Mexican clubs. In 2007, Benítez received an award as the best Ecuadorian footballer playing outside Ecuador,[13] succeeding PSV Eindhoven's Édison Méndez.

Despite interest from Portuguese club Benfica,[14] Benítez decided to remain in Mexico. His 10 goals made a major contribution to Santos winning the Clausura 2008 title, and his personal reward was selection as best player of the season.[3]

Birmingham City[edit]

Benítez playing against Stoke City.

On June 3, 2009, Birmingham City announced the signing of Benítez on a three-year contract for an undisclosed club record transfer fee, which press reports speculated to be in the region of £6 million rising to £9m.[15] The move was subject to the striker receiving a work permit and passing a medical.[6][16] The medical revealed unforeseen knee problems,[17] which prompted the deal to be renegotiated on a "protected purchase" basis. The club would pay an initial $2m (£1.2m) with an option to abort the deal on medical grounds after the first year; thereafter the fee could potentially rise, depending on appearances and success, to a club record $12.5m (£7.7m).[18][19] The player eventually signed on July 7.[18] The club later clarified that he was in fact on loan.[20] While recovering from shoulder surgery and awaiting his visa, Benítez played in an all-star match in Ecuador without asking the club's permission.[21]

2009–10 season[edit]

He made his Birmingham debut as a second-half substitute in Birmingham's opening match of the season, a 1–0 defeat at Manchester United, and came close to equalising, drawing a "wonderful one-handed diving save" from Ben Foster.[22] His first Premier League start came against Hull City on September 19; he played a key role in a 1–0 win and "could have had a hat-trick but for the supreme goalkeeping of Boaz Myhill".[23] Benítez scored his first goal for the Blues on November 9 away to Liverpool, with a close-range header after Scott Dann had nodded the ball on, in a game which finished 2–2.[24] He scored the first of what manager Alex McLeish described as "two classy goals" as Birmingham knocked Everton out of the FA Cup at Goodison Park.[25] However, after his season produced only four goals and Birmingham's attempt to renegotiate the agreed transfer fee was unsuccessful, the club chose not to take up their option to purchase, and the player returned to Santos Laguna.[26][27]

Return to Santos Laguna 2010[edit]

On July 21, 2010, Benítez signed a new three-year deal with Santos Laguna,[28] in the first tournament after his return he was the top goalscorer with 16 goals. Leading the scoring table, Chucho led Santos to the 2010 Apertura Finals, losing to Monterrey.

Club América[edit]

2011–12 season[edit]

Benítez playing against Tijuana

Benitez signed to play for América on May 22, 2011. The transfer fee was reported to be of US$10 million, which established a record for a club in Mexico. He scored a goal in his debut on July 24, in the 2–1 win against Querétaro. On August 21, 2011 Benítez made his first hat trick with América against Atlas in a 5–2 win. In his first Súper Clásico, Benítez scored a header in a 3–1 loss to Chivas.

Benítez scored the opening goal for Club América's Clausura 2012 season in a 2–0 win against Querétaro. Benítez ended the season with 14 goals and ended up being the league's top scorer along with Iván Alonso.

2012–13 season[edit]

Benítez played his first game of the 2012–13 season on July 21 against Monterrey, in a 0–0 away draw. On July 28, he scored his first goals of the season in a 4–2 victory over Chiapas. On November 11, Benitez became joint top goal-scorer of the 2012 Apertura alongside Atlante's Esteban Paredes. On November 14, Benítez scored a two goals in a 2–0 away play-off quarter-final match against Morelia.

Benítez scored his first three goals of the 2013 Clausura season in a 2–0 away win against Jaguares de Chiapas. On March 2, Benítez scored a hat trick, 2 headers and a left-footed strike against Cruz Azul in a 3–0 win. On April 27 after losing 2–0 in an away match against Pachuca, Benitez scored a hat-trick to lead América to a 4–2 win. Benitez ended up being the Clausura 2013 Liga MX top scorer for the third consecutive season. On May 26, Benitez became Liga MX 2013 Clausura champions after defeating Cruz Azul 4–2 in a penalty shoot-out, where he converted the second penalty.

El Jaish Sports Club[edit]

He officially left the club on July 6, 2013, and signed a contract with Qatari club El Jaish.[29] He made his debut in a match against Qatar SC in the Sheikh Jassim Cup on 28 July "without complaining of any health problems", according to El Jaish officials.[30] This was the only match he played for the club. A day later, he died from cardiac arrest at age 27.

International career[edit]

Benitez playing for Ecuador in 2009.

Benítez was a member of the Ecuador national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Although considered by many as a surprise selection by coach Luis Fernando Suárez, he had impressed with his speed, elusiveness and skill in pre-World Cup showings against the Netherlands and Japan, in addition to his 2006 Copa Libertadores experience. He was a candidate for the Gillette Best Young Player Award, a new award made at the end of the FIFA World Cup to the best young player born on or after January 1, 1985. His only appearance was in the 3–0 loss to Germany, replacing Felix Borja midway through the match.

His first international goal came in September 2006 against Peru. Then, in April 2007, he scored another goal against Peru in Ecuador's 2–0 win in a friendly match held in the Mini Estadi in Barcelona, Spain. He also scored in a 1–1 draw with the Republic of Ireland, also in a friendly, played in New Jersey on May 23, 2006.[31] This added to the belief that he could excel in Europe.[32]

Benítez started all three games during the 2007 Copa América, scoring against Chile as Ecuador were eliminated in the first stage, losing all three matches. In an international friendly against El Salvador on September 8, 2007, Benítez scored twice in an emphatic 5–1 home win in Quito.[33]

In a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bolivia, he scored his country's third goal in a 3–1 win.[34] A month later, he scored the only goal against Chile.[35]

International goals[edit]


On July 29, 2013, Benítez entered a hospital in Doha, Qatar, because of a strong pain in his abdomen. According to Miguel Herrera and other teammates in an interview with Mexican morning show Matutino Express, he did not receive immediate medical attention and a few hours later, Benítez went into respiratory failure.[36] He died from complications leading to cardiac arrest at the age of 27.[37][38]

Tens of thousands of people filed past the body, which lay in a glass-topped casket in the Coliseo General Rumiñahui in Quito, before the public funeral ceremony, which was attended by sporting and political figures including the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. The cortege received a police motorcycle escort through crowded streets to a private interment.[39][40]

Following his death, the Ecuadorian Football Federation announced that it would retire his number 11 jersey from the national team.[2] His international teammate Antonio Valencia had Benítez's number tattooed onto his upper arm in tribute after his death.[41]

At the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, due to FIFA regulations, Ecuador had to reinstate number 11 for the squad.[4]

Career statistics[edit]

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Ecuador League Cup League Cup South America Total
2004 El Nacional Serie A 1 0 N/A N/A - - 1 0
2005 30 6 N/A N/A 1 0 31 6
2006 38 16 N/A N/A 12 0 50 16
2007 15 7 N/A N/A 4 1 19 8
Mexico League Cup League Cup North America Total
2007–08 Santos Laguna Primera División 40 17 N/A N/A - - 40 17
2008–09 20 14 N/A N/A 8 5 28 18
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2009–10 Birmingham City Premier League 30 3 5 1 1 0 - - 36 4
Mexico League Cup League Cup North America Total
2010–11 Santos Laguna Primera División 35 20 N/A N/A 4 1 39 21
2011–12 América Primera División 36 22 N/A N/A - - 36 22
2012–13 43 30 N/A - - - - 43 30
Total Ecuador 84 29 N/A N/A 17 1 101 30
Total Mexico 174 103 N/A N/A 12 6 186 109
Total England 30 3 5 1 1 0 0 0 36 4
Career total 288 135 5 1 1 0 29 7 323 143



El Nacional

Santos Laguna

Club América



  1. ^ "Christian Benítez". Archived from the original on June 17, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Número 11 de Ecuador siempre será de Chucho" [Ecuador's number 11 will always be Chucho's] (in Spanish). Federación Ecuatoriana de Fútbol. August 1, 2013. Archived from the original on August 19, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Santos reap golden harvest". FIFA. July 30, 2008. Retrieved September 25, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Soccer-Ecuador to reinstate Benitez's number 11 for World Cup". 6 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Ficha del jugador" [Player details] (in Spanish). Ecuadorian Football Federation. Archived from the original on August 19, 2011. Retrieved September 29, 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Birmingham sign striker Benitez". BBC Sport. June 3, 2009. Retrieved June 3, 2009.
  7. ^ Campos, Pablo (December 24, 2007). "'Teníamos un pacto con mi hijo: regresar juntos a vivir en Ecuador'" ['We had a pact with my son: to come back together to live in Ecuador']. El Comercio (in Spanish). Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  8. ^ "El mejor gol navideño" [The best goal for Christmas]. Diario Extra (in Spanish). December 24, 2007. Archived from the original on May 24, 2008.
  9. ^ "Mellizos, mejores 'goles' de Chucho" [Twins, Chucho's best 'goals']. Hoy (in Spanish). September 6, 2009. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 29, 2009.
  10. ^ Northcroft, Jonathan (August 9, 2009). "Pulling power". Sunday Times. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  11. ^ Townsend, Walter (June 26, 2007). "Ecuador Team Guide". AboutABall. Archived from the original on July 19, 2009. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  12. ^ "El Nacional no conoce interès del Villareal" (in Spanish). CRE Satelital Ecuador. January 16, 2007. Archived from the original on April 5, 2009. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  13. ^ Sánchez Pineda, Joselo (December 13, 2007). "Cristian Benítez premiado por AER como mejor Ecuatoriano en el exterior". Ecuador Football Federation. Archived from the original on December 15, 2007. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  14. ^ "Alexis Sánchez y Christian Benítez interesan al Benfica" (in Spanish). November 25, 2007. Archived from the original on November 26, 2007.
  15. ^ Walker, Andy (June 4, 2009). "Birmingham City pay record £9m for Ecuador striker Christian Benitez". Birmingham Post. Retrieved June 14, 2009.
  16. ^ "Blues make record signing". Birmingham City F.C. June 3, 2009. Archived from the original on June 6, 2009. Retrieved June 3, 2009.
  17. ^ Tattum, Colin (July 6, 2009). "Medical concerns delay Benitez's £9m move to Blues". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
  18. ^ a b "Blues bag Benitez". Birmingham City F.C. July 7, 2009. Archived from the original on July 10, 2009. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  19. ^ Tattum, Colin (July 8, 2009). "Birmingham City insist on 'get out' clause in new deal for Christian Benitez". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved August 19, 2009. Blues will pay just $2 million, about £1.2 million, for the next 12 months and at the end of that period have a 'get out' option to cover themselves should Benitez's knee have caused him grief in that time. Thereafter, they will shell out money over a period of years, incorporating chunks for appearances and success, that could take the eventual price to $12.5 million, or £7.75 million.
  20. ^ "Player Profiles: Christian Benitez". Birmingham City F.C. Archived from the original on July 13, 2009. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  21. ^ Tattum, Colin (July 20, 2009). "Injury-hit Christian Benitez plays all-star game in Ecuador". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  22. ^ Sonaji, Pranav (August 16, 2009). "Man Utd 1–0 Birmingham". BBC Sport. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  23. ^ Cross, Jeremy (September 21, 2009). "Alex McLeish is full of hope for Christian Benítez at Birmingham". The Times. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  24. ^ Kay, Oliver (November 10, 2009). "Steven Gerrard's penalty rescues point for Liverpool". The Times. Archived from the original on May 31, 2010. Retrieved November 10, 2009.
  25. ^ "Everton 1–2 Birmingham". BBC Sport. January 23, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
  26. ^ Tattum, Colin (May 14, 2010). "Reasons for Blues not signing Christian Benitez explained". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved May 14, 2010.
  27. ^ "Birmingham City opt against signing Christian Benitez". BBC Sport. May 14, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  28. ^ "Former Birmingham loanee Benitez signs new deal in Mexico". Mirror Football. July 21, 2010. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
  29. ^ كما انفردنا ..الجيش يتعاقد رسميا مع الإكوادوري بينتيز (in Arabic). 6 July 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  30. ^ "Qatar footballer dies at age 27 of 'respiratory arrest'". July 29, 2013. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  31. ^ "Ecuador 1–1 Ireland". ESPNsoccernet. May 23, 2007. Retrieved May 24, 2007.
  32. ^ "Christian Benítez, el hijo de la Pantera y el punta del futuro". Diario AS (in Spanish). June 1, 2007. Retrieved June 1, 2007.
  33. ^ "Ecuador 5–1 El Salvador". ESPNsoccernet. September 8, 2007. Retrieved September 11, 2007.
  34. ^ "2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying South America / Ecuador VS Bolivia". Statbunker. September 6, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  35. ^ "Ecuador - Chile - 12 October 2008 - 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa qualifier". FIFA. October 12, 2008. Archived from the original on August 5, 2013. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  36. ^ Ordorica, Ana Paula (July 29, 2013). "Paralelo 23". Paralelo 23 (in Spanish). Mexico City. Televisa. FOROtv. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  37. ^ "Christian Benitez: Former Birmingham striker dies aged 27". BBC Sport. July 29, 2013. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  38. ^ "Christian Benítez falleció en Qatar". El Comercio (in Spanish). July 29, 2013. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  39. ^ "Christian 'Chucho' Benítez es sepultado en cementerio de Quito" [Christian 'Chucho' Benítez buried in a Quito cemetery]. Terra (in Spanish). August 3, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  40. ^ "Rafael Correa dijo que Christian Benítez se ha convertido en leyenda" [Rafael Correa says that Christian Benítez has become a legend]. El Comercio (in Spanish). August 2, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  41. ^ "Ecuador motivated by death of Christian Benitez". Yahoo. Associated Press. May 31, 2014. Retrieved June 10, 2014.

External links[edit]