Pound for pound, the £825,000 Alex Ferguson paid Norwich City for this craggy, uncompromising centre-half two weeks short of his 27th birthday in December 1987, was one of the best deals Manchester United have ever done.
Bruce’s central defensive partnership with Gary Pallister – the pair were affectionately dubbed ‘Dolly and Daisy’ – was the bedrock on which three Championship-winning sides were built (1993, 1994 and 1996), as well as successes in the European Cup Winner’s Cup (1991), FA Cup (1994, 1996) and the League Cup (1992). It was arguably Bruce’s two critical late, late goals – a pair of towering headers – against Sheffield Wednesday that tipped the 1992/93 Premiership title race in United’s favour and really got the ball rolling for United’s dominance of the modern game.
Bruce’s was a steady climb to the football summit. A product of the famous Wallsend Boys Club that gave the game talents like Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley and more recently United transfer target Michael Carrick, he represented Newcastle schoolboys, but was rejected at 16 by his boyhood idols, as well as Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield Wednesday and Southport ¬because he was perceived to be too small. He subsequently got a job at the Swan Hunter shipyard as a trainee plumber but a week