Burnley’s Ben Mee opens up about baby daughter’s fight for life

Most will be glad to see the back of 2020, but Burnley star Ben Mee has a special reason for not feeling the same – his baby daughter Olive.

Born four months early and weighing an astonishing 1lb 2oz, even doctors weren’t certain Olive would survive such a premature birth.

Thankfully she has, and ­although Olive is still on oxygen to help her tiny body cope, she’s growing bigger by the day to the relief of Mee, wife Sarah and little boy Jaxon.

And as the year draws to its close, Mee can look back with real perspective on a time that’s been difficult for everyone.

The 31-year-old defender said: “I had my little girl so that was a positive, and it’s ended well. Now she’s doing OK, but it’s been a rollercoaster year for sure.

“We got her home on the day she was actually due to be born. To bring her home and meet Jaxon was an incredibly emotional day after everything that happened.

“To be born at 24 weeks was very early and to weigh only 1lb 2oz meant we’d had conversations with the doctors preparing us for what could happen so of course it was difficult.

“Obviously it was made more difficult with the pandemic, and, at first, I wasn’t even ­allowed into the hospital to see Sarah.

“It was difficult to negotiate all that with all the restrictions and guidelines and, of course, a little girl in the midst of it.

“It was just a case of trying to get her and my family through it.

“The rest of the family have only seen her from a distance because of Covid, but thankfully it’s worked out OK and she’s doing really well now.

“She’s on oxygen still at the moment, but we’d have taken that at the ­beginning. Hopefully she will be coming off it soon.

“It definitely has put everything into perspective massively this year, like I have never known before in football . . . every day life, the lot.”

Before he left Manchester City, David Silva was a comfort for Mee after going through something similar last year with his own premature son Mateo.

Mee added: “We were both captains that night and you have a little meeting before the game, so I mentioned it to him then and asked him how his lad was doing.

“It was very good to speak to him at that time.

“I just wanted to know how he was doing really because I didn’t know many people who had been through it – you want a positive story from it because you never know what’s going to happen.

“David was reassuring. Mateo was two years old and a normal young boy and that was nice to hear.”

With life at home more settled, Mee is hoping to end an extraordinary year by helping Burnley climb away from trouble, starting with a big test at Arsenal today.

Mee said: “Taking something against Arsenal would be great, especially at their place.

“We’ve got massive character in the squad and that has shown throughout our time in the Premier League.

“We don’t listen to any outside noise really about our team, our squad, how we go about things. We’re a great close knit group.”

Mee added: “We’ve got a big month coming up with big games but I’m very confident we will pick up results.”

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