Ben Mee shows exactly why he is Burnley captain, as he raises awareness of World Prematurity Day
Sean Dyche feels Ben Mee has shown exactly why he is captain of Burnley, as he raised awareness of World Prematurity Day this week.
The Clarets skipper did a number of interviews with national media, discussing the birth of daughter Olive, who arrived during lockdown last year weighing just 1lb 2oz, and spent 15 weeks in a new-born intensive care unit.
Upon Project Restart last June, Burnley visited Manchester City in their first game back, with Mee getting some reassurance from City legend David Silva, whose own son Mateo was born five months early in 2017.
Mee said, in an interview with charity Tommy's, who fund research into miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirths: "Initially I didn't know an awful lot about premature births, but I did know that David Silva had had a young, premature boy at 24 weeks as well, and I remember seeing him at the airport, he was going back home to Spain to see his little baby who'd just been born.
"I remember thinking, I think we'd just had Jaxon as well, he's a similar age to Jaxon and around that time, I just remember thinking what he's going through.
"Obviously, Olive's born and our first game back, after lockdown, we'd gone back to training, is Manchester City away, so I knew David a little bit from my time at Man City, he was there, he'd just arrived when I sort of left there.
"We're both the captains of the teams, so before the game we meet up, meet the refs and I just mentioned to him, "how's your son doing?' and he said 'doing really well' and I said 'I've just had a little baby, 24 weeks and we had just a little conversation and I wanted that bit of reassurance that everything was okay with him.
"To hear that was nice, I hadn't really spoken to anyone, we hadn't spoken to anyone that had had such a premature baby.
"I went back and it was nice to hear that his son was doing really well and just what a happy, happy boy he was so it was really good to hear that and I came away really positive."
Clarets fans have been particularly proud of the skipper, and boss Dyche added: "He and his family went through a really tough spell, the worry and concern, the challenge of that and staying focused, and we obviously supported him the best we could, I don't think there's any true support in that situation.
"He's a grounded, balanced fella, very caring about his family, like most are, and I think he's in a situation which he's dealt with very well, amongst other situations.
"That all kind of encapsulates, on a lesser level than real life, why he's ended up being a captain, because often there's a maturity to a captain.
"Some captains it is about performance, but with him, it's a maturity."
Supporters of many clubs have hailed Mee for using his platform to draw attention to the issues many parents face, and Dyche added: "You don't want to get too pure about it, there are players out there playing and it's nice to remind people they are human, with a life behind what they do.
"Sometimes that gets lost inside a stadium, but outside I think fans are certainly of a mind that they have a lot of challenges away from the pitch.
"Unfortunately the good stuff doesn't always make the news."
Mee is one of a number of Burnley players out of contract at the end of the season, but there is no news on that front: "He's like the others, we stay open-minded with their situations, dialogue with their agents, and he understands where that's at."