SUNDERLAND boss Steve Bruce has paid a glowing tribute to a namesake who lost his battle with cancer.
The two not only shared the same name but also a passion for the Black Cats.
Dad-of-two Steven Bruce, who raised more than £42,000 for local charity Cancer Connections since being diagnosed with the disease, died on Saturday.
The pair met in a get-together organised for Steven’s 40th birthday in November, when Sunderland took on Stoke.
The Black Cats’ manager said: “We are all devastated to hear that Steven has passed away. He was a tremendously brave man, thinking of others through his fund-raising when he himself was going through so much.
“My thoughts and those of everyone at the club are with Steven’s family.”
Pals say his meeting with the manager was the highlight of Steven’s birthday celebrations.
He went to the match with friends John Brown, Glenn Holstrom and Mark Jones, who rallied round and helped their pal’s fund-raising.
John said: “He had a brilliant day and the club were brilliant.
“We had a proper day out at the match, just like we used to when we were younger.”
Glenn said: “The Stoke game was the week after 5-1 defeat at Newcastle. We were told not to ask the manager about the match but the first thing we all said was ‘what happened last week’. He just started laughing, but he did answer our questions.
“It was such a great day.”
At the time Steven, of South Shields, said: “It was very surreal, standing in the manager’s office before the game, but it was a great day.
“I invited John, Glenn and Mark because they have been on board since the start, and have been very supportive, so it was a nice way to thank them for everything they’ve done as well.”