Photo: Christian 'Chucho' Benitez and Family
Ecuador said good-bye to its native son Christian “Chucho” Benitez today, who died suddenly at age 27 in Qatar where he was playing for the Al Jaish team.
A beloved athlete Benitez’ good-bye started when his body returned via private plane on Thursday four days after his death. The body was accompanied by Benitez’s wife, Liseth Chala and other family members.
Benitez died on July 29, 2013 after entering a Qatari hospital for an appendicitis and died from complications arising from respiratory arrest. The official cause of death reported was heart failure.
He was born in Quito and made a name for himself on the Ecuadorian national soccer team scoring 24 goals in 28 appearances. Benitez had only been playing for the Al Jaish team for a few days when he passed away.
Chucho’s wake took place on Friday at the Rumiñahui Coliseum that brought out thousands of people wanting to pay their last respects. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa who attended the wake said on behalf of the country “Te has convertido en leyenda. Hoy nos abandonas físicamente, pero vivirás por siempre en el recuerdo amoroso de nuestro pueblo”, (translation: “You have become a legend. Today you abandon us physically, but you will live forever in the loving memory of our people.” Benitez has also been praised for his promotion of Afro-Ecuadorians causes in the country.
This morning the final good-bye started with a noon mass and burial at the Monteolivo cemetery. This afternoon El Nacional soccer club, where he started in 2004, paid tribute to its former team member at a moving ceremony at the Atahualpa Stadium. The game against Deportivo Quevedo was held in is honor with an award presented to his family.