During his playing career, Steve Bruce was a centre back who played for five English clubs: Gillingham, Norwich City, Manchester United, Birmingham City and Sheffield United. While at Norwich City he became known for his energetic, “rampaging” play. Bruce wasn’t a player who was blessed with natural ability, but he made up for it with his bravery, and by staying calm under pressure. While at Norwich City, Bruce began to attract interest from larger clubs before eventually signing for Manchester United.
While playing for United, his readiness to take knocks from opposing players and play through injuries made him the “heart” of their defense. After missing several weeks due to a hernia operation, he returned to the 1991-92 team on short notice and led United to their first-ever League Cup.
Red Devils supporters will always remember Bruce for the two late goals he scored against Sheffield Wednesday in 1992-1993 which helped United win the league for the first time in twenty-six years. He was also captain of the Manchester United side which won the “double-double” (league title and FA Cup) during the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons.
Bruce was respected throughout his career for being able to galvanize a team. He was the ultimate team player who understood his role and limitations. He was able to lead because it was in his character to put the team before himself.
After his playing career, Bruce embarked on his life as a football manager. He has managed seven clubs prior to his time at Hull City. His managerial advocates regard him as resilient, with an ability to seize a club’s potential and lead them to, or keep them in, the Premier League. His résumé features two prior top flight promotions with Birmingham City (2001-02 and 2006-07).
The last time Hull City was in the Premier League they avoided relegation during their first season. Phil Brown, the manager at the time, was able to keep the club in the top flight for two years before they fell back into the Championship. The Tigers spent the past three years in the lower division before earning promotion on the final day of the 2012-13 regular season (under the leadership of Steve Bruce).
For those who witnessed the opening minutes of Hull City’s 2013-14 season at Stamford Bridge, the early images weren’t good. It would be safe to say that more than a few Tiger supporters were already worried for the club’s immediate future in the Premier League.