He could hardly have been further away, but the coronavirus pandemic hit close to home for Dundee United midfielder Ian Harkes.
His grandfather, Ron Kunihiro, had been fighting Covid-19 since early March with Harkes stuck in Dundee unable to catch a flight back to America.
Thankfully, now at their family home in Virginia and by his side, Harkes has witnessed the 78-year-old recover.
“I was just happy to get home. My granddad got out of the hospital and he’s been battling Covid,” the 25-year-old said.
“He’s had it for a while. It’s been a long process which started back in the beginning of March when he first started to feel ill.
“He went in to the hospital for 40 days or so. I was still in Dundee so we had to FaceTime or Zoom call the family to keep updated on everything.
“Thankfully, we were able to find some flights and get back over.
“He’s healthy now which is great. It’s been great to see him recover and nice to be here with the family.
“The challenge now is getting back over to Scotland but, thankfully, I’ve got a UK passport so I should be OK!”
Harkes travelled back to the states with fiancée and Celtic Women’s player Sarah Teegarden a few weeks back.
Their wedding plans are on hold and the country is in disarray but Harkes insists it’s nice to spend precious time with his loved ones.
He continued: “She was able to come back as well which is good.
“It’s nice to spend time together but all our wedding plans will be pushed back now.
“On the mental side being back with them all helps tremendously, missing them throughout the year.
“They came over around Christmas time but seeing them again six months later has been big. It always gives me a lift.
“It’s a bit different here than the UK. Some things don’t seem so shut down but that’s just America right now – we’re not quite sure what’s going on.
“It’s quite crazy just now with the amount of cases and, unfortunately, the amount of deaths we’ve had in America.
“I think the country’s a little bit all over the place, some places are opening up and some are closed, but right now we’re still in lockdown in Virginia.
“All the states are different but it’s been OK here.
“I’m not sure how long that will be but we need to be safe, especially with having that experience in my family.
“I think we’ve all had a little bit of a different view towards it but we’ll see how it goes and hope for the best.
“We can still exercise and things like that. I’ve had space to go and run and cycle, do some things in the yard and touch a ball every day.
“It’s been good to have certain resources back home and to keep doing stuff.”
Like most, lockdown has been a test for Harkes’ mentally and physically. For him, it’s a challenge he soon hopes to rise to on the pitch.
Harkes added: “It’s definitely been a challenge on both sides but, thankfully, the club provided us with a great fitness programme before we went on furlough to keep us ticking over.
“I’ve been active and all of us want to be flying when we finally get the go-ahead to get back to playing.
“We’re all trying to push each other and push ourselves.
“On the mental side, the way we ended was a little tough because we wanted to play for the fans and finish out the season.
“We really felt like we deserved the title and we knew it then but we just wanted to finish off the games and prove it to everyone.
“We’ll have that desire to get back on the pitch and play hard when we finally get it going.”
The United support have taken to Harkes since he joined the club in January last year, as much for his flowing locks as his skill on the pitch.
He is pleased to inform them nothing has changed on the hair front in lockdown but that he might soon be forced to take matters into his own hands.
“I’m still going strong but it will be cut before everything gets going again,” Harkes said.
“I think it’s getting a bit ridiculous now.
“I don’t want to start putting it up in a bun and everything. Nobody wants to see that and I definitely wouldn’t get away with it in the dressing-room!”