Once a Blue, always a Blue for John Terry, so it seems.
The 37-year-old chose to move to the Midlands outfit at the beginning of this term over other top-flight suitors to rule out any chance of coming up against his beloved Blues – where he spent 19 seasons.
However, the former England international has the opportunity to secure first tier football once again when his side come up against Fulham in the playoff final at Wembley this weekend.
But Bruce insisted to ESPN ahead of the capital showdown that he will not demand that Terry, who is in line for a one-year extension to his 12-month contract at Villa Park this summer, feature against Chelsea should they make it back to the Premier League.
“We’ll not pick him against Chelsea if that’s he wants,” he said. “All those phone calls to him last summer, he hasn’t been disappointed with it. From the training ground, to the stadium, to the support, it has all the makings of a big club.
“He has been one of the great defenders of our country. He is a great leader of men, which we don’t produce many of any more. In a quiet way, he is not a ranter and a raver, he is not one who puts heads through doors.
“He hasn’t exceeded expectations, I just knew what he would give. I’m sure he will give it a good go if we get promoted and enjoy the challenge of it.”
Terry has been an integral character in Aston Villa’s side this season; featuring 32 times in the Championship – helping them secure fourth spot – as well as registering a herculean defensive display in their 1-0 aggregate win over Middlesbrough during the playoff semifinals.
And Bruce is hoping he is able to count on his captain again this weekend as they come up against an impressive Fulham outfit.
“That’s what we’ve brought him for, not just to win a game on a Saturday but his overall contribution,” he added. “He’s never let us down. What I realised straight away was I needed people who can handle playing for Aston Villa with the demand of a big club and intensity of a big club.
“Here you are straight under the pump. You have to play well and handle it. That is why I went down the route of bringing in the likes of [Glenn] Whelan and [Ahmed] Elmohamady, John Terry of course, [Mile] Jedinak.
“Slowly but surely we have tried to change it around. There were too many bad apples here and we haven’t got them any more.”