Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell is recovering from his bad bout of pneumonia in the comfort of his own home after touching down in Melbourne on Friday morning.
Mitchell had been holidaying in New York with his wife and three kids when he was hospitalised with the disease for seven nights either side of Christmas Day.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Sam Mitchell returns home from New York.
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Mitchell spoke to 7NEWS Melbourne’s Theo Doropoulos ahead of his return to the Hawks on a part-time basis next week.
“Feeling OK. Feeling better. It’s a long flight so you’re not getting me at my best, but I’m recovering, feeling better,” Mitchell said on Friday.
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The 41-year-old wouldn’t be drawn on the specific details of his sickness, or the true severity of it, but said it was a tough time.
“The story will come out in due course, (I’m) probably not ready to quite talk about it yet but it was a few rough days,” Mitchell told 7NEWS.
“Spent a few days in hospital. My wife was juggling three kids in a hotel in a foreign city and me being in hospital. I think it was seven nights in the end.”
Sam Mitchell is back home in Melbourne. Credit: 7NEWS
Mitchell praised the care at New York University Hospital as first class.
“A lot of really good people helped,” the four-time Hawthorn premiership player said.
“The medical system was fantastic over there and I’m fortunate to be home and pleased to be home.”
Despite being physically incapacitated and stuck on another continent in a completely different time zone, Mitchell has been kept abreast of his club’s return to pre-season, which went ahead without him from this week.
“I feel pretty good. I mean, just got off a flight, so not great, but I’ll start to recover now and see how I come down after this flight, and make sure I’m feeling OK, and get back and get back to work eventually, but no rush,” he said
“I’m really happy with how the boys have come back, I’ve obviously been getting regular reports.”
Players returned to pre-season training on Wednesday without their coach.
Hawks footy boss Rob McCartney praised Mitchell’s family for their support and also revealed current board member Anne-Marie Pellizzer and former board member Andrew Kaye played crucial roles in New York.
Mitchell is back from New York after the serious health scare. Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
“I actually spoke with him as the boys were training today — he’s going well, the vibrance is back in his voice,” McCartney said on Wednesday.
“He’s definitely on the improve, and part of that is making sure that he does get that time to recover and be that person he was before Christmas when he left.
“We were concerned obviously because he was in a foreign country, we couldn’t provide the same level of support we probably could if he was here in Melbourne.
“We were really lucky that we’ve got a current board member in Anne-Marie Pellizzer and a former board member in Andrew Kaye who played quite a significant role in mobilising the right support on the ground in New York, so we were comfortable once we had those things in place.
“His wife Lyndall did an amazing job in caring for Sam while he was in hospital, but while also managing three kids over in New York.
“We want to make sure that we continue to provide that great care that Lyndall did when he was away, when he gets back.”
Mitchell will likely make a staggered return to work, starting next week in a limited capacity.
“We expect him to be back in our program early on Monday, he won’t spend full weeks in our program initially when he gets back,” McCartney added.
“When we get a line of sight and an eye on Sam, we’ll have a bit better of an indication as to where he is at.
“He was really unwell there for a few days, obviously in hospital during that Christmas period, so we’re just ensuring that we take a phased approach with him coming back.
“We want him at 100 per cent fitness as quickly as possible instead of maybe coming back a little bit early and doing a little too much and having that linger for a while.”