Saturday 27 May 2017

Alex Ferguson 'put the boot in' on a Man United legend playing for Ireland at USA 94

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: Sir Alex Ferguson (L) of Manchester United and Steve Bruce of Sunderland walk off after the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford on November 5, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: Sir Alex Ferguson (L) of Manchester United and Steve Bruce of Sunderland walk off after the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford on November 5, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Jack Charlton exploited the 'Granny Rule' to great effect during his time as Ireland manager but one player revealed how Alex Ferguson stepped in to prevent him from representing the Boys in Green.

Despite being a defensive regular during Ferguson's first three Premier League title-winning seasons, Steve Bruce was never capped for England.

The centre back featured for England B but besides an approach during the twilight of his career - which Bruce turned down - he was ignored by a succession of England managers.

Bruce's mother is from Ireland, meaning that the former Hull manager could have played for the team, and he told a great story on Goals on Sunday yesterday about how Charlton approached him about going to USA 94 - only for Ferguson to nix the idea.

"Big Jack Charlton rang me before USA 94," Bruce said.

"Typical Jack, he rang me and said 'I've just been on a train and the drive says your mother is from Ireland, why didn't you tell me before? We'd love to welcome you.

"At the time if you were Irish you were 'foreign' and that assimilated rule, you could have been a 'foreigner' playing for Man U. Sir Alex put the boot into that one and said 'you're not going to be foreign'. You were only allowed four or five [foreign players]. We played Barcelona one year and had to leave Cantona and Schmeichel upstairs."

Roy Keane has also told stories about how Ferguson was reluctant for him to go away on international duty, so it isn't a great surprise that the former Man United boss would want to keep one of his star defenders under wraps at Old Trafford.

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