Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce has revealed that former Wigan chairman Dave Whelan played a crucial role in his development as a manager and helped him through a tough period in his coaching career.
Bruce retired from his playing days in 1999 and moved swiftly into management, starting at his final club before retirement, Sheffield United.
Sadly, an unsuccessful spell at Bramall Lane was followed by another disappointing return at Huddersfield, where Bruce was sacked following a dispute with the club's owner who had accused the former defender of wasting £3m on players.
With his career at crossroads Bruce had a difficult decision to make having fallen out of love with football, but he told Birmingham based newspaper, the Express and Star, that what followed next in his career, played a key role in keeping him in management.
“It was only going to Wigan the first time, when I initially took over for just six games, that made me think again.
“It’s fair to say the first two clubs I had managed weren’t easy. There were takeovers and boardroom squabbles. I’d taken a long look at it – football management.
“It was at Wigan, with Dave Whelan and (youth development officer) John Benson, God rest his soul, who really helped me enjoy it again.
“Dave was as straight as a die. He was straight-forward and there to help you. You could just tell what he wanted to do. You could see his ambitions. He built an unbelievable stadium and gave the manager the tools to do the job.”
Bruce is now preparing his Aston Villa team to face his former side this weekend and although he speaks highly of Wigan, he admits that he will be fully focused on beating them on Saturday.
He added: “I really enjoyed my time at Wigan but I want to win for my employer now and for this club.
“All of the sentiment goes out the window. After the game, I hope Dave, his grandson and his family really do well.
“I always look out for them because they are good people.”