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STEVE BRUCE has the perfect credentials for the Newcastle job, having served his time as a foot soldier in the Toon Army.

The big Geordie has been a fervent supporter of the Magpies since the days when he first sprung to prominence as a centre-half at Newcastle's Benfield School.

He always dreamed of wearing the famous black-and-white stripes but when his home-town club didn't come in for him he signed for Gillingham.

From there he moved to Norwich City before making the move to Manchester United that established him as the best uncapped English defender of his generation.

Ironically, the man Bruce is destined to replace at St James' Park, Sir Bobby Robson, believes one of his biggest mistakes of his time as England manager was not to cap his fellow Geordie.

Bruce was the bedrock of the successful Manchester United side of the 1990s and formed a commanding partnership with Gary Pallister.

After leaving United, he played with Birmingham City for a spell before moving into management with Sheffield United. He was unsuccessful with The Blades and moved for a brief period to Huddersfield Town.

Bruce then moved to Crystal Palace after a short spell at Wigan and after some controversy, he left them to return to Birmingham City in December 2001.

He was an immediate success at St Andrews. In his first season he took the club up into the Premiership.

And with some astute buys Bruce has established the Blues as a genuine top-flight force.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 5, 2004
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