Alex Stephen Bruce (born 28 September 1984) is a professional footballer who plays as a defender for Kilmarnock. He has also played as a holding midfielder on occasion. The son of the former Hull City manager and former Manchester United defender Steve Bruce, he has also played for Ipswich Town and Leeds United, among others.
Born and raised in England, Bruce has played twice for the Northern Ireland national team, for which he declared himself available in 2011 and made his debut in 2013. He had previously made two appearances for the Republic of Ireland in 2007–08, but was allowed to switch under FIFA eligibility rules as these had been in friendly matches.
Bruce was born in Norwich, Norfolk, but moved to the Greater Manchester area at the age of three when his father, centre-back Steve Bruce, was transferred from Norwich City to Manchester United. He joined the Manchester United Academy, but was released at age 16 and moved to Blackburn Rovers as a trainee. He signed his first professional contract there in 2002, and was part of their under-19 team that won the FA Premier Academy League in 2002–03. He made his first-team debut on 26 December 2004 against Hartlepool United, while on three months' loan to League One club Oldham Athletic, and was part of the Oldham team that beat Manchester City in the FA Cup on 8 January 2005. He signed on a free transfer for Birmingham City, where his father was manager, on 27 January 2005.
After finishing his loan spell at Oldham and returning to his parent club, he joined Sheffield Wednesday again on loan until the season's end, and contributed to their promotion via the play-offs. Bruce's performances against Tranmere Rovers impressed that club's manager, Brian Little, who signed him on loan for the first half of the 2005–06 season, but the loan was terminated early by mutual consent.
Bruce made a few appearances for Birmingham following his return, including coming on as a substitute against Liverpool when Birmingham were getting heavily beaten. The team were relegated to the Championship, and it was felt that accusations of nepotism were hindering his progress, so it was decided that, in the best interests of club, manager and player, Bruce should pursue his career away from his father's management.
Qualifying through his paternal grandmother from Bangor, Northern Ireland, Bruce was eligible for international football for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in addition to England, where he was born and brought up. He was called up by the Northern Ireland under-21s, but opted to play for the Republic instead, and made his debut for their under-21 team against Sweden in February 2006. He also represented Republic of Ireland B against Scotland B in November 2006.
On 23 May 2007 he made his full international debut in a friendly match for the Republic of Ireland against Ecuador played at Giants Stadium, New Jersey. He captained the Republic of Ireland B team which played Nottingham Forest in a challenge match at Dalymount Park on 9 October 2008.
In July 2011, Bruce switched his international allegiance to Northern Ireland. This was possible under FIFA eligibility rules because Bruce's appearances for the Republic had been in friendly matches. He was first called into the Northern Ireland squad in October 2012, for the World Cup qualifier against Portugal, but injury forced his withdrawal. He made his Northern Ireland debut against Malta in a friendly on 6 February 2013.
When Bruce joined Leeds United, he was reunited with his childhood friend, the Leeds goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel; their fathers, Steve Bruce and Peter Schmeichel, had played together in the same positions at Manchester United.
In December 2010, Bruce was involved in a car crash during a snow storm, but managed to escape from the crash unharmed.