Bruce was at Manchester United in 1993 when a youthful Keane, one of his managerial predecessors on Wearside, arrived from Nottingham Forest as he embarked on a hugely successful 12-year spell at Old Trafford.
While Bruce accepts that it is too early to say whether or not Cattermole will go on to become such a household name on the Premier League and European stages, the Sunderland boss is convinced his fifth signing is made of similar stuff.
The Teessider has already become a mainstay of the England Under-21s since deciding to leave Middlesbrough 13 months ago to team up with Bruce at Wigan Athletic.
Having been reunited with his former Latics manager after completing the switch on Wednesday, Cattermole is being tipped for a bright future with comparisons to Keane ringing in his ears.
Cattermole is a winner, he portrays that when he plays.
He is a no nonsense type, he gets on with it. If you need him alongside you in a fight he will be there with you, and I dont mean that literally,
said Bruce, who spent three years playing alongside Keane, and the pair remain good friends.
If he can go and get better then we have got a real big player on our hands. He has played 130 games already and he is only 21. I chased him at Middlesbrough, I chased him at Wigan.
In my day there were hundreds of players like him.
Fiercely competitive, driven, like the ex-manager of this club Lee is very, very like him.
Roy had the same dynamism as what Lee has when he was younger.
All of the top teams have players like him. Lee reminds me of Roy in his attitude for the game. He is a born winner.
Lets be fair we are talking about one of the games greats in Roy, but when Roy was young he had the same sort of drive and enthusiasm, but he made the team better.
He never gave up and it was over his dead body sort of thing, Lee is the same.
Whether he can go on to get anywhere near Roy remains to be seen.
But I have thought enough of him to pay £6m. He will be straight in the team on Saturday.
Cattermoles rapid progress in the last 12 months will frustrate Boro fans who saw him move on.
But Boro boss Gareth Southgate, who sanctioned that first sale, said: Theres no denying that when he moved to Sunderland for double the price (we sold him for), theres a tinge of Well could we have done better Im the first to think about that.
But the reality is that Catts wanted to leave. He felt, and we probably also felt, that he needed to move away from the area at the time. We always knew his potential and hes had a very good season so Wigan have done well out of the deal.
We got £4m for him really and, at the time, in terms of where he was in his career, I dont think we could be criticised too heavily for the deal.
Bruce has also previously claimed that moving away from the North-East was the best thing for Cattermole after a series of off-the-field distractions during his days at Middlesbrough caused many to fear for his career.
But Bruce is confident he can keep him heading in the right direction despite a return to the region for the Stockton-born midfielder.
Maybe getting out of the area has helped him, said the Sunderland boss. Bringing him back was an issue and I have thought long and hard about it and I will have to speak with him about it.
But he has matured a little bit in that year. I sincerely hope so. For his football ability, he epitomises how I want Sunderland to play.
Bruce has admitted defeat in his attempts to add a central defender to his ranks before the trip to the Reebok Stadium, but he has learned that Paraguayan defender Paulo Da Silva has finally had his visa stamped.
But Da Silva, who was travelling from Mexico yesterday, is unlikely to play at Bolton, so Bruces back four will consist of players from last season.
Talks are ongoing with Portsmouth for Frenchman Sylvain Distin, while there is also still interest in Manchester Citys Richard Dunne.
We hope there will be more before the end of the month, maybe one more, said Bruce, also interested in John Mensah and Lucas Neill. If we cant then we will be very pleased with what we have done.
We have brought in two proven England Under-21 internationals, we have brought in the captain of Marseille, the captain of Paraguay and we have smashed the record for a transfer fee for a striker.
Im very pleased. All of them are through the spine of the team, thats where we needed strengthening.
Sunderlands Carling Cup second round trip to Norwich City has been selected for coverage on Sky Sports on Monday, August 24 at 7.45pm.