but a week before he was due to start was offered an apprenticeship with Gillingham.
After making his league debut for the Gills at the start of the 1979-80 season while still just 17, he went on to make more than 200 league appearances for the Kent club before Norwich paid £135,000 for his services in August 1984. At Carrow Road, Bruce won a League Cup winner’s medal in 1985 and the Second Division Championship medal the following year. Remarkably, for all his subsequent honours at Old Trafford, Bruce was never selected for a full England cap, though he did lead the side at B level.
He finally left the Reds on a free
transfer for Birmingham City in the 1996 close season after nine years, 414 appearances and a prolific 51 goals. Assisted by his accuracy from the penalty spot he had remarkably finished as the club’s joint top scorer in 1990/91 with 19 goals in all competitions.
In 1998 he started out on the management trail with Sheffield United as player-manager, and has also been in charge at Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic and Crystal Palace. He is currently boss at Birmingham City, mounting a bid for a swift Premiership return in 2006/07 after taking the Blues up and spending four seasons in the top flight. Don’t bet against it.