Christian “Chucho” Benitez 1986-2013
As football seasons go, the 09/10 season rates among the best for Birmingham City Football Club. We went unbeaten for 9 games; we finished high mid-table; we had a young hungry side full of talented players. Joe Hart, Scott Dann, Seb Larsson… and Chucho Benitez.
Chucho nearly became the clubs most expensive signing in a nine-million pound deal, though this fell through due to knee injuries, eventually joining the club on a one-year loan deal.
While as a striker, he was somewhat goal shy, his work-rate and enthusiasm was something we hadn’t seen at St. Andrews in a long time. His blistering pace and tenacity made him a firm fans favourite, and there was uproar when the decision was made not to take up the permanent option on his deal. Chucho returned to South America.
Today the sad news broke that Chucho had tragically died in Qatar at the age of 27. I think his death has really affected me, I have so many good memories of him; the excitement fans got when he was on the pitch, the look of utter relief on his face when he broke his duck on his last game at St. Andrews. If enough players had his level of dedication, commitment and love for the game, football would be a very different prospect. Benitez reminded me why I loved football.
Keep Right On Chucho.