BEN Mee hopes to be embarking on another landmark season for Burnley, after celebrating a milestone moment at home.

It was during lockdown in mid-May that his daughter, Olive Grace, was born 16 weeks prematurely. She weighed just 1lb 2oz.

More than three months and almost five precious pounds later, she was allowed home for the first time last week.

“The little one has been back with us for a few days, which is nice,” beamed Mee, who is also father to two-year-old Jaxon.

“Our little boy met her for the first time when she came home as well.

“He’s quite gentle with her because of her size. She’s six pounds now, which is not massive, but it’s quite big compared to what she was.

“It’s been three-and-a-half months, so it’s nice to have her home and not have to go to the hospital every day and just be together as a family.”

Togetherness has got Mee and wife Sarah through the toughest of times. And he thanked the club and his team-mates for the role they have played in helping him through these worrying months.

“Coming in here, being able to talk to the players and staff, was a release for me,” he said. “It was massive.

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“With lockdown, I wasn’t seeing my friends or anyone really in my family. Obviously you have Zoom but face-to-face is miles better as everyone knows. To come in with your mates and them asking and being supportive was a big help for me.”

In turn, Mee helped Burnley to a 10th placed finish – their second in three years – after the Premier League resumed in June.

His header secured a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace in late June, and his ‘rock the baby’ celebration that has become familiar in football told the world about Olive. She was six weeks old that day and getting stronger.

Frustratingly for Mee, his season ended at Selhurst Park, after he suffered a thigh injury in training ahead of the home game with Sheffield United.

“I would have loved to have played until the end of the season. I felt in a really good place,” he said.

“It was also nice to get a goal.

“I was pleased with how I was playing in that moment and I hope I can get back to it.”

His strength of character, given everything that was going on in his personal life, was – and is – remarkable.

“I’ve changed a little bit. My growth as a person has improved. You go through tough times and you improve as a person, you grow as a human being,” he continued.

“Seeing, not just my daughter, but all the babies who were in (hospital) and all the work that goes into caring for them.

“You see the work the NHS does and we managed to raise some funds for them, it certainly changes your perspective, it gives you more of a broader outlook on things.

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“With my son, who’s two now, football up until that point is pretty much your life. But I do think I am quite level-headed about most things. I can put things in perspective. I can be quite level about things, but certainly when something like that happens, it does change your outlook on things a little more.

“But on the pitch was my release to be able to go and play and forget about everything for a bit.”

The captain’s leadership qualities did not just come to the fore at work, but also at home.

“It was a bit difficult trying to juggle everything that was going on. But I’m someone who is quite positive and I always try to look at the best of things and work through it,” he explained.

“I wanted to keep my wife positive through a tough time and my daughter is doing well and that’s all I can ask for. We still have to go in for checks but she is doing well so far.

“We can’t praise the doctors and nurses enough. They have been amazing with us. Both hospitals were fantastic and we can’t speak highly enough of them. It’s been really good care that we’ve had.”