Signed by Manchester United from Norwich City in 1987 for £800,000 Steve Bruce went on to help his new club win 3 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, a League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup in his 9 years there.
Bruce made 416 appearances for Manchester United over the period, scoring 52 goals. Yet he was overlooked by three England managers - Bobby Robson, Graham Taylor and Terry Venables - and never achieved his ambition of playing for his country at the top level (Bruce did make it into an England B team once in 1987, and made it into the youth team squad on 8 occasions.
Age is thought to be the main reason for his non-selection for England (he was almost 28 when he joined Manchester United), but Bruce feels that age shouldn't have been an issue.
Speaking a few years back, the centre back said: 'Manchester United didn’t take off when I went there. It happened after that and I was already over 30. I won more between 31 and 35 than I did from 19 to 30. I was better at 32, 33 than I was when I was younger. At centre-back you don’t need to be at your physical peak'.
Bruce added ruefully: 'I didn’t even get into a(n England) squad. At Manchester United, when it was international week, I’d be the only one left. Everyone else would be away and I never really came to terms with it.
'In 1991, I scored 20 goals, and if a centre-half got 20 goals today, Wow, can you imagine the hype'.
Was Steve Bruce the best Manchester United player never to have been given a full England cap ?
image: © Ben Sutherland