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Christian Benítez
Benítez with América in 2012
Personal information
Full name Christian Rogelio Benítez Betancourt
Date of birth (1986-05-01)1 May 1986
Place of birth Quito, Ecuador
Date of death 29 July 2013(2013-07-29) (aged 27)
Place of death Doha, Qatar
Height 1.68 m
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)
2009–2010 Birmingham City (loan) 30 (3)
2011–2013 América 79 (52)
2013 El Jaish 0 (0)
Total 288 (135)
National team
2005–2013 Ecuador 58 (24)
  • Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Christian Rogelio Benítez Betancourt (1 May 1986 – 29 July 2013), also known as Chucho, was an Ecuadorian professional footballer who played as a striker.

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. 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. He played for El Jaish of the Qatar Stars League at the time of his death. 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. However, due to FIFA regulations they had to reinstate it for the 2014 World Cup squad.

Personal life

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

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

Club career

El Nacional

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

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

Santos Laguna

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, succeeding PSV Eindhoven's Édison Méndez.

Despite interest from Portuguese club Benfica, 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.

Loan to Birmingham City

Benítez playing against Stoke City.

On 3 June 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. The move was subject to the striker receiving a work permit and passing a medical. The medical revealed unforeseen knee problems, 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). The player eventually signed on 7 July. The club later clarified that he was in fact on loan. While recovering from shoulder surgery and awaiting his visa, Benítez played in an all-star match in Ecuador without asking the club's permission.

2009–10 season

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. His first Premier League start came against Hull City on 19 September; 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". Benítez scored his first goal for the Blues on 9 November away to Liverpool, with a close-range header after Scott Dann had nodded the ball on, in a game which finished 2–2. 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. 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.

Return to Santos Laguna 2010

On 21 July 2010, Benítez signed a new three-year deal with Santos Laguna, 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

2011–12 season

Christian Benitez America
Benítez playing against Tijuana

Benitez signed to play for América on 22 May 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 24 July in the 2–1 win against Querétaro. On 21 August 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

Benítez played his first game of the 2012–13 season on 21 July against Monterrey, in a 0–0 away draw. On 28 July, he scored his first goals of the season in a 4–2 victory over Chiapas. On 11 November, Benitez became joint top goal-scorer of the 2012 Apertura alongside Atlante's Esteban Paredes. On 14 November, 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 2 March, Benítez scored a hat trick, 2 headers and a left-footed strike against Cruz Azul in a 3–0 win. On 27 April 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 26 May 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

He officially left the club on 6 July 2013, and signed a contract with Qatari club El Jaish. 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. This was the only match he played for the club. A day later, he died from cardiac arrest at age 27.

International career

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 1 January 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 23 May 2006. This added to the belief that he could excel in Europe.

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 8 September 2007, Benítez scored twice in an emphatic 5–1 home win in Quito.

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

Death and legacy

On 29 July 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. He died from complications leading to cardiac arrest at the age of 27.

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.

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

At the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, due to FIFA regulations, Ecuador had to reinstate number 11 for the squad which was taken by Felipe Caicedo.

Career statistics


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National cup League cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
El Nacional 2004 Serie A 1 0 1 0
2005 30 6 1 0 31 6
2006 38 16 12 0 50 16
2007 15 7 4 1 19 8
Total 84 29 17 1 101 30
Santos Laguna 2007–08 Primera División 40 17 40 17
2008–09 20 14 8 5 28 19
2010–11 35 20 4 1 39 21
Total 95 51 12 6 107 57
Birmingham City (loan) 2009–10 Premier League 30 3 5 1 1 0 36 4
América 2011–12 Primera División 36 22 36 22
2012–13 43 30 43 30
Total 79 52 0 0 79 52
Career total 288 135 5 1 1 0 29 7 323 143

International goals

Scores and results list Ecuador's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Benítez goal.
List of international goals scored by Christian Benítez
# Date Venue Opponent Score Final Competition
1 6 September 2006 East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States  Peru 1–0 1–1 International friendly
2 23 May 2007 East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States  Ireland 1–0 1–1 International friendly
3 6 June 2007 Barcelona, Spain  Peru 1–0 2–0 International friendly
4 26 June 2007 Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela  Chile 1–2 2–3 2007 Copa América
5 8 September 2007 Quito, Ecuador  El Salvador 2–0 5–1 International friendly
6 4–1
7 20 August 2008 East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States  Colombia 1–0 1–0 International friendly
8 6 September 2008 Quito, Ecuador  Bolivia 3–1 3–1 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
9 12 October 2008 Quito, Ecuador  Chile 1–0 1–0 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
10 9 September 2009 La Paz, Bolivia  Bolivia 3–1 3–1 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
11 4 September 2010 Zapopan, Mexico  Mexico 1–0 2–1 International friendly
12 12 October 2010 Montreal, Canada  Poland 1–0 2–2 International friendly
13 2–2
14 17 November 2010 Quito, Ecuador  Venezuela 1–0 4–1 International friendly
15 2–0
16 1 June 2011 Toronto, Canada  Canada 1–1 2–2 International friendly
17 2 September 2011 Quito, Ecuador  Jamaica 3–0 5–2 International friendly
18 4–0
19 6 September 2011 Quito, Ecuador  Costa Rica 4–0 4–0 International friendly
20 7 October 2011 Quito, Ecuador  Venezuela 2–0 2–0 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
21 15 November 2011 Quito, Ecuador  Peru 2–0 2–0 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
22 10 June 2012 Quito, Ecuador  Colombia 1–0 1–0 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
23 21 March 2013 Quito, Ecuador  El Salvador 2–0 5–0 International friendly
24 26 March 2013 Quito, Ecuador  Paraguay 3–1 4–1 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification



El Nacional

  • Serie A: 2005 Clausura, 2006

Santos Laguna

Club América


  • Serie A Best Player: 2006 Serie A
  • Liga MX Golden Ball: Clausura 2008, Apertura 2012
  • Liga MX Golden Boot: Apertura 2010, Clausura 2012, Apertura 2012, Clausura 2013

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Christian Benítez para niños

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