|Managing:|| Birmingham City|
|Date of Birth:|| 31/12/1960|
Steve Bruce was finally presented to the press and public as the manager of Birmingham City on 12 December 2001, having been through one of the most turbulent spells of his long career.
Steve had resigned as the manager of Crystal Palace on 2 November 2001 and was expected to be named as manager of Birmingham City shortly afterwards.
However, the Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan took the matter to the High Court in a bid to prevent Bruce from walking out, managing to secure a decision in his favour that could have forced Bruce to sit out the entire nine-month notice period that was in his contract.
Bruce had been appointed as the permanent successor to Alan Smith at Crystal Palace on 31 May 2001, taking charge of team affairs from the then caretaker boss Steve Kember.
Bruce left Wigan Athletic two days before being appointed at Palace after taking on a short-term role at the JJB Stadium following Bruce Rioch's surprise dismissal in April 2001. He succeeded in guiding The Latics into the play-offs where they lost to Reading in the semi-finals.
Prioir to that, Bruce had been in charge of two Yorkshire teams, Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town but it is for his achievements as a player that he is perhaps most well-renowned. He was the captain of the Manchester United side that won the first league championship at Old Trafford for 25 years in 1992/93. He was one of the players in the 1990s United sides who provided the experience that Sir Alex Ferguson mixed with young products of his own youth policy.
Being at United at such a time was a triumph for Bruce, whose playing career began with Gillingham. He joined the Kent club as an apprentice in 1978 and played over 200 games for them before he was signed by Norwich City. He was a pillar in the Canaries' defence for three years and helped them to League Cup glory and promotion to the old First Division before joining United. Alex Ferguson drafted the solid centre-back into his United side in 1987.
In 1989, Ferguson signed Gary Pallister from Middlesbrough and Bruce established a formidable central-defensive partnership with his new colleague that lasted for seven years, and became the foundation of the team's success.
Bruce won three Premier League titles, one League Cup, two FA Cups and a European Cup Winners Cup with United. Fans at Old Trafford will always remember his two injury time headers against Sheffield Wednesday that were crucial in clinching the Premier League title in 1992/93, along with his many penalties.
Apart from one appearance in a 'B' international match, Bruce was surprisingly ignored as an England player, despite the fact that his long-time colleague Gary Pallister was a regular for his country during his time in Manchester.
Approaching his 36th birthday, Bruce left Old Trafford for a new challenge with Birmingham City and was appointed captain by manager Trevor Francis. He enjoyed two seasons with The Blues and was inspirational in the heart of the defence at St. Andrews but was given the opportunity to begin his managerial career by Sheffield United, in July 1998, and left Birmingham for Bramall Lane.
Bruce was The Blades' manager for just ten months. Despite the team's reasonable performance in the league, he resigned in protest at the club's board. Citing broken promises as the reason behind his departure, it transpired that Bruce's grievance concerned a lack of investment in new players.
He was not out of the game for long though and was appointed as Peter Jackson's replacement at Huddersfield Town in May 1999. After an impressive start to his first season at the McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield fell away from the promotion race and eventually just missed out on a play-off place. Again, a situation concerning players and transfers upset the manager, when the Terriers' star striker Marcus Stewart was sold to Ipswich in February 2000 for £3million.
The following season began very poorly for The Terriers and, after just one win in their first eleven games, Bruce was dismissed as manager and replaced by his assistant Lou Macari. Steve worked as a summariser on televised football games during his seven-month absence from the profession before Wigan Chairman Dave Whelan gave him the opportunity to return to management.
After his short spell at Wigan, Bruce accepted the challenge of helping Crystal Palace back to the top flight following the club's narrow escape from relegation to Division Two the previous season. His first aim was to turn the Eagles into a team capable of challenging for a play-off place.
After an impressive run of results that had put the Club in the running for automatic promotion, Bruce handed in his notice, and spent five weeks as the manager-in-waiting at Birmingham City. Talks between the two clubs were concluded in December 2001 just one day after the teams met in the league, as the new Crystal Palace manager Trevor Francis returned to St. Andrews with the team Bruce had left.
With Birmingham sitting in mid-table at the time of Bruce's arrival, the new manager set his sights on reaching the play-offs and immediately brought in some new players to achieve this.
The Blues finished the season unbeaten in their last ten league games, securing fifth place in Division One and a place in the play-offs.
Trinidad and Tobago striker Stern John, signed by Bruce from Nottingham Forest, scored the last minute winner that saw Birmingham past Millwall in the semi-finals. In dramatic final in Cardiff, The Blues held their nerve in a penalty shoot-out - after coming from behind to draw 1-1 - beating surprise finalists Norwich to earn their place in the Barclaycard Premiership, just five months after Bruce's arrival at the club.
Crystal Palace, Wigan Athletic, Huddersfield Town, Sheffield United