Burnley skipper Ben Mee reflects on a decorative decade at Turf Moor

Burnley skipper Ben Mee has reflected on a decorative decade at Turf Moor.

The defender, 32, originally joined the Clarets on loan from Manchester City in June 2011, before making his move permanent the following January.

The Sale-born centre-back wore the captain's armband when City's Academy won the FA Youth Cup in 2008, he featured against Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls on the club's US tour in the summer of 2010 and then followed that up with his senior debut against West Brom in the League Cup.

However, Mee would join Leicester City temporarily for the second half of the 2010-11 campaign, working under ex-England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, and played in a 4-0 win over Burnley at the King Power Stadium.

Ben Mee of Burnley celebrates a goal scored by Chris Wood of Burnley (not pictured) which is later disallowed for offside during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Burnley at The King Power Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Leicester, England.

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Eddie Howe made his move just months later. “I was really excited to join the club; I chose this club over a few others," Mee said. "I was excited to come here and prove myself and show what I could do.

“I started pre-season quite well and wanted to show the fans what I could do and what I was about.

“Then, obviously January came around and I joined on a permanent basis, and I felt it was just the right time for me to move, the right club for me.

“I was eager to get signed at Burnley permanently and get my career going and move on from City.

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Ben Mee of Burnley battles for possession with Christian Benteke of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Burnley and Crystal Palace at Turf Moor on November 20, 2021 in Burnley, England.

“I was a young player; I wanted to improve and get my career off somewhere and not out on loan, and it just went from there.”

Mee, who made his debut in a 2-2 draw at home to Watford, played 44 games across the board under Howe before Sean Dyche's transformative tenure kicked in at the end of October 2012.

Burnley were promoted in Dyche's first full campaign in charge, finishing as runners-up to the Foxes in the Championship and returning to the Premier League following a four-year hiatus.

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Mee said: “What a season that was, the feel around the club, the group of players we had, especially after Christmas.

Wilfred Zaha of Crystal Palace in action with Ben Mee of Burnley during the npower Championship match between Crystal Palace and Burnley at Selhurst Park on October 6, 2012 in London, England.

“To get that second spot and go and get promoted, against all the odds, was just fantastic.

“Brilliant season, quite unexpectedly, it was also the Gaffer’s first full season at the club as manager, so what an achievement that was to go and get promoted to the Premier League.”

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Mee, who netted his first goal for the Clarets in a 2-2 draw against Millwall on home soil in September 2012, made his debut in the top flight against Chelsea at Turf Moor, the first of his 209 appearances in the division.

The evening ended in a 3-1 defeat, despite Scott Arfield's opener for the hosts. “You always aim to play in the Premier League, as a young player you want to aim for the top," he said.

Ben Mee of Burnley heads clear under a challenge from Steven Gerrard of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Burnley and Liverpool at Turf Moor on December 26, 2014 in Burnley, England.

“So, to be a part of it and see what it was about playing in the Premier League was an eye opener.

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“You play in the Championship, but then you play in the Premier League, and you see the attention it has across the world, different people wanting to get involved and have a piece of the action.

“Our first game of the season was against Chelsea on Monday Night Football live on Sky, that was a great experience."

He added: “Playing against the quality of Chelsea, Scotty (Arfield) scored a great goal, and the place was bouncing, we didn’t quite get the win.

“I remember (Cesc) Fabregas playing that pass to Andre Schurrle that night, I think I got blamed for not seeing the pass, but I don’t think anyone saw that pass!

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“I think that whole season was just a big learning curve for us, I was playing left-back throughout that season, which isn’t my favoured position.

“But that season was all about learning for me, unfortunately we couldn’t quite stay up, but that group of players learnt a lot that season.”

Burnley took one step back in order to take two steps forward, returning to the Championship alongside QPR and Hull City after falling five points short of safety.

They bounced back in style, however, matching a club record 26 wins and 93-point return from two seasons previous, while embarking on a 23-game unbeaten run to end the season as champions, at Charlton, with an inflatable trophy.

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“Going into the next season, back in the Championship, it’s how you then bounce back," Mee said.

“We didn’t have the best first half of the season, but it all changed around Christmas time, we went on an amazing run and went on to get promoted.

“That was probably one of the best times I’ve had here as a player, going on a 23-game unbeaten run and winning games.

“Finishing off winning the league and at Charlton on the final day celebrating with the fans was special and to be back in the top-flight at the first time of asking was a massive achievement.”

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The club's second-longest serving player at present, and 16th in Burnley's all-time list of appearances, who had previously netted his first PL goal in a 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace in January 2015, would earn the honour of being named skipper on Burnley's return to the big time.

His first game as captain came in November 2016 as his former club, Manchester City, came to town. He said: “It was great to be back in the Premier League and I went on to make captain the side for the first time, against my former club too was special.

“But like I said, a lot of players learnt a lot from the first-time round in the Prem, which benefited us second time round.

“The experience for myself and the squad was very valuable from the first season in the Premier League, it helped us a lot.

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“And we of course went on to secure survival that season and stay up, which was massive for us.”

Burnley's modern day heroes enjoyed unprecedented success during the 2017-18 term, flirting with the top four on occasions, before culminating the campaign in seventh, securing European football for the club for the first time in half-a-century.

They had beaten champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the opening day, taken a point away at Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United while holding Manchester City at home.

“That was a special season, it was great," Mee said. "We were in the mix with the big boys for the first half of the season, fourth in the league in December.

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“We sort of tailed off towards the end of the season, but overall, it was really strong, we were a solid unit that season.

“We got results against teams that maybe we shouldn’t have got results against, things just worked for us.

“That was a real good base for what we built on and of course we then went on to finish 7th and secure a Europa League spot for the upcoming season.”

Mee played every minute in the league the following season while taking in both legs against Aberdeen and the away leg against Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir.

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The Clarets, though, couldn't quite get over the line, losing their play-off against Greek giants Olympiakos and missing out on the group stages of the competition.

The skipper said: “It was a fantastic experience, not just for me and the team and the coaching staff but for the club and the fans too.

“It was the club’s first European tie for over 50 years, it was really special, it was brilliant walking out at Aberdeen on the first game.

“We had a fairly difficult draw and came up against some tough sides, but a great learning experience for us all."

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Mee added: “The demand of playing in Europe at the beginning of the season too, it is difficult playing them away games on a Thursday, then back playing Premier League football on the weekend.

“But it was really nice for me to play every game that season, I aim to do that every year, sometimes it doesn’t work out like that through injuries and stuff, but I want to play as much as possible."

Mee has now captained Burnley 131 times in his 368 appearances across all competitions for the club. He has no intention of stopping there, either, though he'll be hoping those numbers continue to increase with a seventh successive season in the Premier League.

“I’m really proud to have played so many games, 16th in the all-time appearance list is a good achievement for myself," he finished.

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“I will push to get higher, but I think when I finish playing one day I’ll look back and really be able to take it all in and reminisce the good times I’ve had and the friends I’ve made.

“I couldn’t have asked for more from when I joined in 2011, to be here 10 years later, still going strong.

“Being captain of the club, it’s a good achievement, the club has grown massively and that’s been a big part of me staying here, progressing hand in hand with the club.”