Belfast Telegraph

Alex Bruce: 'I'm so proud of dad's cup glory'

By Steven Beacom

Hull City manager Steve Bruce has been there, done it and collected FA Cup winners medals on TWO occasions.

Steve's son Alex would settle for just one.

The Northern Ireland defender will be in Hull's squad for tomorrow's final at Wembley against Arsenal and might even make the starting line-up.

It's a venue Alex knows well having watched his dad shine there when he played and captained Manchester United.

Bruce senior won the FA Cup with the Red Devils in 1990 (Sir Alex Ferguson's first trophy as manager) and in 1994, when he captained United to a league and cup double.

He also played in the 1995 final, losing to Everton, but missed the decider a year later through injury against Liverpool and their white suits. After United won 1-0, Eric Cantona tried to persuade Bruce to walk up the steps to lift the silverware only for the proud Geordie to decline.

Memories every single one for a man whose life has been devoted to football and Alex was there to share in them as a fresh faced kid dreaming of emulating his father.

Tomorrow he will get the chance.

"I've always loved the FA Cup," said 29-year-old Bruce.

"It goes back to when I was young and we had so many special days watching my dad play in finals at Wembley.

"You never forget those days. I was so proud watching dad lift the Cup. Now it would be fantastic to finally create some memories of my own."

Back in his dad's day it was the old Wembley. The younger Bruce's first visit to the new Wembley was when Hull dramatically defeated Sheffield United in the semi-final.

The boss of Sheffield United? Nigel Clough, who knows all about the pressures of being managed by a famous dad.

It hasn't always been easy for Alex, who on occasion during his two year spell at the club has faced accusations that he was only playing because his father was in the dug-out, but he says the Hull boss treats him like any other player, which is just the way he likes it.

The former Ipswich and Leeds centre back is in line to play tomorrow in the biggest game of his life should James Chester fail to recover from a hamstring injury.

Steve has no worries should he have to call upon his boy.

"He's never let anyone down and I know that would be the case if he plays," said the 53-year-old who has led Hull to their first FA Cup final in 110 years of existence.

The former Manchester United hero says his hardest job at the weekend will be picking the starting XI but did admit that if Alex gets the nod there will be a sense of fatherly pride.

Bangor should also feel pretty pleased because it played a key role in this footballing family with Steve's mum born and raised in the county Down town.

It was the grandparent rule that allowed Alex to turn out for Northern Ireland, though only after he had chosen the Republic of Ireland first, played two friendlies and then switched allegiance, making his debut for the country of his granny's birth last year.

Steven Davis, Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt and Jonny Evans are well known Northern Ireland internationals in the Premier League, but Bruce, having played 20 games in the top flight this season, should not be forgotten from that list.

Already Hull have enjoyed arguably their finest season ever, avoiding relegation and reaching the Wembley decider, though the defender is hopeful the best is yet to come.

He says: "It's been a massive achievement. We've done brilliantly. Reaching Europe and an FA Cup final and being safe with two games to spare, we'd have snatched your hands off for that. Whatever happens it'll go down as a successful season, but it would be brilliant to finish it off in style at Wembley."

Northern Ireland stars such as Danny Blanchflower, Peter McParland, Norman Whiteside and Lawrie Sanchez have provided memorable FA Cup final moments down the years, but they have been thin on the ground lately.

Tony Capaldi was the last Northern Ireland international to play in the game, back in 2008 when his Cardiff side lost 1-0 to Portsmouth, while our last winner was Roy Carroll in 2004, coming off the bench as Manchester United beat Millwall 3-0 in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

A decade on, Alex Bruce is hoping to be part of a shock Hull victory against Arsenal.

Belfast Telegraph

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