The tough-tackling Teessider showed his former club Middlesbrough just what they have been missing this season as he dominated the midfield in Wigan's goalless draw at the Riverside on Saturday.
Cattermole's dominance was helped after Didier Digard was stretchered off after he was on the end of a perfectly-timed challenge from the England Under-21 star.
Boro fans did not give Cattermole the greatest reception thereafter, but many would have wished he was still wearing the colours of his hometown club - rather than adding to the misery on Teesside, with Gareth Southgate's men staring relegation in the face.
Big fanLatics boss Bruce admits that Cattermole was excellent and he holds the midfielder in very high esteem.
"The booing was a back-handed compliment for Lee," said Bruce.
"Nobody wants to see anyone get injured but it was a perfectly fair challenge on Digard - he's a tough man, that's why I bought him.
"I like everything about him, and the way he plays epitomises the team.
"He never gives in, he tough, resilient and he a good footballer too. He drives other players on - everybody wants a player like that whether they are Manchester United, Chelsea, anyone.
"He is only 20 and has a big future ahead of him, I would never modify his style, I bought him because of it.
"I love him to bits, he's got the kind of desire shown by Bryan Robson and Paul Ince. Whether technically he can match them, because they were really good footballers too, we'll have to see but he's got time."