Sir Bobby Robson signed him from his old club Ipswich Town claiming: "One day Titus will play for England".
That never happened, but Martin O'Neill claims it is still not too late for the Sunderland defender to develop into the “top-class defender” Sir Bobby Robson always felt he would become.
Bramble will make his first Premier League start of the season at West Ham tomorrow as he deputises for Carlos Cuellar, who sustained a hamstring injury in last weekend's draw with Liverpool.
In 2002 Robson regarded the defender as one of the brightest domestic prospects he had worked with and predicted international honours as well as a lengthy stay at the very pinnacle of the game.
The reality has been somewhat different, with Bramble struggling to hold down a starting spot for first Newcastle and now Sunderland, and having three situations when he was accused of sexual assault on ladies.
Martin O'Neill: “Until I got here, I didn't quite realise how much potential he has.
“I remember Sir Bobby Robson speaking about him years ago. Sir Bobby would wax lyrical about this young kid and I can see why.
“I can see those things with Titus, but his major problem is staying fit. I just hope he can stay injury-free because if he can, not only will he be challenging for a place in the team, he's very capable of stepping in and making the centre-half position his own.
“I can only judge Titus from my time here.
“I thought he might be a bit wayward because he's had one or two problems off the field, but he's as good a lad as there is.
"I'm delighted things went in his favour (with the court cases) as he always maintained they would. That was a relief for him, but the fitness aspect is still an issue.
“Over his career here, he has shown that he's a proper centre-half, but the injuries have niggled away at him.
"Last season, he limped off against Everton on Boxing Day, and if you'd told me then that we wouldn't see him again until the last day of the season, I wouldn't have believed you.
“As you get older, it's harder to shake the injuries off, and he's not 22 any more. Time catches up on us all, but with Carlos being out, it's very good to have him.”