In one of the most shocking stories to hit soccer in recent memory, Ecuador international striker Christian Benitez died whilst playing the game he loved back on July 29, 2013. The 27-year-old was at the top of his game, leading Ecuador towards the World Cup with goals, hard work and that huge smile he was famous for. But after moving to Qatari side El Jaish from Club America, the man known as “Chucho” suffered heart failure and his tragic death placed Ecuador in mourning. Watch the video above to see Ecuador’s national team manager, Reinaldo Rueda, emotionally dedicate their win over Uruguay to Bentiez.
Benitez scored 24 goals in 58 games for the national team, and starred for Club America, Birmingham City, El Nacional and Santos Laguna in his career tragically cut short.
Ecuador now needs just one point from their final game against Chile to guarantee their path to the 2014 World Cup. With their superior goal difference, they’ll probably qualify regardless of their score against Chile, and will play in Bentiez’ honor.