Manchester United hero Steve Bruce's son on his Leeds career

19 January 2011 01:52
The dream for AlexBruce was always tofollow in his father'sfootsteps as anintegral part of atitle-winning ManchesterUnited team, and he freelyadmits the night it was dashedwill never leave him.

He had arrived at the club'sacademy as a budding Ruud vanNistelrooy and been forced to accepta change of role to midfield, but hestill felt he had done enough to earna full-time contract.

Sitting nervously alongside hismates outside an interview room atthe Carrington training ground, histurn finally arrived to discover hisfate. What followed left him shatteredand fearing his career was overbefore it had begun.

Like father like son: Alex Bruce at Leeds training ground in Thorpe Arch

Inadvertently, italso added a steely edge to his gamethat almost helped Leeds beatArsenal in the FA Cup 11 days agoand could finally finish them off intonight's replay at Elland Road.

'With my dad playing for United, Iwas basically brought up at the place,' he said.

'I was taken on as astriker at nine years old and was 16when decision time arrived. I hadbeen switched to midfield but haddone all right and was hopeful.

Chip off the old block: Alex Bruce is a no-nonsense centre half in the same mould as his father, Steve

'I remember being called over toCarrington on a Tuesday night. Weall had individual appointments, andyou could feel the tension.

'I was satnext to my best mate Phil Bardsley,and we were both on edge, wonderingwhether we had done enough. It looked promising, though,because one after another went inand came out a couple of minuteslater, happy as Larry.

'One or twowere real borderline cases but werebeing kept on. My turn came, and in I went. As Isat down and looked at Les Kershawand Paul McGuinness, they justblurted out 'Sorry' and made anexcuse about how they didn't feelthey had a proper position for meand couldn't see me holding down aregular spot.

'They added it might bethe right time to move on and have acrack elsewhere, and that was it.

'I was the only one being released,and I had to step out of that office,look the rest of the lads in the eyeand wish them all the best. Rejectionis a horrible thing, and at that moment, it was the worst feeling I'dever had.

'I was devastated, and it didn't helphaving to break the news to my mumand dad and sister Amy. My dad wasoften playing for United when I wasbanging the goals in as a kid, butmum and Amy were always there onthe touchline in all weathers.

'It hurthaving to tell them I hadn't made it. It's something I will always thinkabout, but at least it made me say tomyself, 'I'm going to get to grips withthis now and prove that those peoplewho let me go were wrong'.

'Looking back, it's probably the bestthing I ever did, leaving United andgoing to Blackburn. The academydirectors there got hold of me, saw Ihad the makings of a centre half andbegan moulding me into one.

'Theytaught me about the position andwhat a winning mentality was allabout, and I owe them so much.'

Bruce's summer move from Ipswichto Leeds reunited him with keeperand childhood pal Kasper Schmeichel,reviving memories of a celebrateddouble act at Old Trafford, wheretheir fathers, Steve and Peter respectively,filled the same positions.

United stalwart: Steve Bruce was a massive success at Old Trafford

'Kasper is just the same as his dadand lets you know if you get somethingwrong,' said Bruce, 26.

'It raiseda few eyebrows when we were suddenlythrown into the same team,and how we perform as a defenceseems to be highlighted more.

'But we go back a long way. We werenext-door neighbours in Bramhall,near Manchester, when our dadswere at United, and we were out onthe street kicking a ball about everynight.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?Other players who have to cope with the pressure of a famous footballing name include:THOMAS INCE Midfielder, 18,spent last two months on loanunder dad Paul at Notts County.ANDREA ZOLA Defender, 19, wasat West Ham when dad Gianfrancowas boss but is now with Grays.CHARLIE SHERINGHAM A strikerlike his father Teddy, the 22-yearoldformer Crystal Palace man isnow at non-League Dartford.

'Kasper would go in goal, and Iwould be in someone's garden, tryingto bend the ball round a tree and stickone past him. We would be out thereall hours, belting balls at each other.'

As the son of a former ManchesterUnited player, it has taken time forBruce - and Schmeichel - to win overthe fiercely tribal Leeds fans. Hisfather, however, will be in the standtonight as Leeds chase a fourth-roundplace.

'Your dad is always your biggestcritic, and mine is no different,'Bruce said.

'One mistake, and he willjump on it. If he doesn't, my mum'snot far behind. She knows her stuffand is coming to the replay, too.

'I remember the home game withCardiff, when Kasper and I let the ballland between us, and Jay Bothroydnipped in to score. My dad said,'What are you doing, letting itbounce? Get your head on it, son.'

'When you've got a dad who's hadsuch a successful career, you have toget used to comparisons.

'Peoplemake judgments, but it doesn'tbother me. I am very proud to be hisson. He won titles and cups at Unitedand achieved everything except anEngland cap, which was a completeinjustice.

'I'm proud to call him mydad, and if I can turn out to be evenhalf as good as he was, I'll be happy.'

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 Explore more:People: Steve Bruce Places: Leeds, Manchester

Source: Daily_Mail

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