I was saddened to receive a text from Nat, a J&S regular on our forum, on Monday telling me that Christian Benitez had passed away.
Although he didn’t end up as a permanent member of the playing staff, his short time on loan did leave an impact. I remember him as a player that clearly enjoyed playing football, and although, (in my opinion), wasn’t the most skillful player – his clear enjoyment for kicking a ball somehow endeared him to me. He would run and run, I’m certain if the Gil Merrick stand and the railway line hadn’t been there, he’d have run straight into town!
The strength and the power of premier league defenders I think proved too difficult and he didn’t really settle in the season he was with us. He only scored four times during his spell, and I guess it wasn’t a complete surprise he wasn’t offered a contract.
However he was successful at Santos, Lugana and Club America – winning the Mexican League title – so couldn’t have been that bad eh?
It is a tragedy that a likeable 27 year old is no longer with us. Dying of heart failure following peritonitis he leaves behind a wife and twin children aged three.
Tributes on Twitter include those from Antonio Valencia, Francis Lee, Craig Gardner, Jack Butland, Robbie Savage, Lee Carsley and Gary McSheffrey.
RIP Chucho, and thank you for the memories.
Nat has done his own tribute here.