Antonio Valencia has been granted compassionate leave by Manchester United to return to Ecuador following the tragic death of Christian Benitez this week.
The 27-year-old died suddenly of heart failure and Valencia had a very close relationship with all of his Ecuadorian teammates.
He has gone back to Ecuador for the funeral which will take place this week but it is a devastating blow for the whole of football to have such a tragic loss.
Valencia returned to action for the first time this summer when he played the full 90 minutes against Crewe Alexandra. I didn’t expect Valencia to play at all as Benitez died earlier that day, so it was an incredible show of mental strength by Valencia to put that to the back of his mind.
The rest of the squad have all also been given a couple of days off following their involvement in the pre-season tour of Asia.
Valencia has had a really tough time personally with his injury problems and this devastating news will play heavy on his mind. Fans may want Valencia to return to his 2011/12 form as soon as possible but this setback will have really knocked him, so everybody will have to show Valencia some patience.