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Steve Bruce 1987-1996 414 Games 51 Goals

November 22, 2009

Written by: Robi Prosser

As a 16 year old Steve Bruce while playing for the famous Wallsend Boys Club in the north-east had trials with many top flight clubs including his beloved Newcastle United, the general response among the clubs was that although Bruce had all the gritty determination and heart, he was too small and lacked any genuine talent to make the grade as a top flight footballer.
Bruce finally found a ground to call home when he was signed as an apprentice at Third Division football club Gillingham, it was at Gillingham he was fashioned into a tough tackling central-defender, while there, he was capped by the England youth team and was voted the club’s player of the year three times.

His performances at Gillingham werent going un-noticed and in the summer of 1984, Second Division club Norwich City paid £135,000 for his signature, while at Norwich City he helped in the clubs rebirth, winning not only the Second Division Championship in 1986 but also winning the League Cup in 1985 aswell.
By the winter of 1986, Alex Ferguson was appointed manager of Manchester United, he inherited a team with an injury prone and unreliable central defence, it was only a matter of time for someone to come knocking on the manager of Norwich City’s door asking about the possibility of signing Bruce, Alex Ferguson made the call the Ken Brown asking about Bruce and with United being in the First Division there Brown wasn’t going to stand in Bruce’s way to much but when asked Ken Brown’s words about Bruce to Alex Ferguson were ” you’ll love this boy, you will never get a more enthusiastic lad.” Ferguson was obviously impressed by what his scouts had been saying about Bruce and Brown’s words because in the December of 1986, Steve Bruce became a Manchester United player signing for a fee of £825,000, bringing with him not only enthusiasm, but also a determination that the team at the time was lacking, after being turned down by his boy hood heroes and many other top flight clubs as a 16 years old Steve Bruce wasn’t going to give anything but his best for Manchester United.

After joining the club, Bruce had an eventful debut, two days later when United played Portsmouth where despite conceding a penalty and breaking his nose he slotted in to the team with alacrity, his gritty playing style often overshadowed his actual playing ability, rather than just putting an aimless head to the ball, Bruce would chest the ball down and play the ball along the ground, Bruce formed a seven year partnership with Gary Pallister at the heart of United’s defence, with Gary Pallister’s pace and skill on the ball complementing Bruce’s organization and determination, this partnership was an integral part of the early success of United’s winning years of the Premier League.

For a period of time Bruce became the main penalty taker, in the 1990-91 season he was joint top scorer for United in the league, with 13 goals and finished the season with 19 goals overall which is exceptional for a central defender, he also scored 11 penalties during that season and this is a record that still stands today as the most penalties scored by a Manchester United player in any one season. During the 1991-92 season Steve Bruce was appointed captain of United, taking over from Bryan Robson, during his time has captain he lifted three Premier League titles, two FA Cup and a League Cup winners medal.

In all his success at United Steve Bruce must of been of best central-defender to play the game to of never won a full-cap for England, after Bobby Robson’s eight years in charge of England he bumped into Steve Bruce while in Portugal and he said to Bruce ” I made a mistake with you son, I should of had you in my team long before I finished.” Such was Bruce’s determination and never-say-day attitude while playing the game, Alex Ferguson once joked ” when he passes on I want his body for medical research, he’s unbelievable, its hard to know what this man is made off.”
Bruce left United in 1996 on a free transfer to Birmingham City after playing over 400 games and scoring a remarkable 51 goals.

After a remarkable and succesful career for a player who was deemed too small and told he lacked any genuine talent he has now also become a highly respected manager and he his currently employed as manager of top flight club Sunderland.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. adam (carpy) permalink
    November 22, 2009 9:08 pm

    very good read mate, your work is brilliant here. i have always had a soft sport for bruce, unfortunately can never remember him play for us as i was too young, but i definitely want him as our next manager. I know many could do a job after SAF, but i want this lad, and i am sure he wouldnt turn down the opportunity.

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