'He loved football' - Steve Bruce names player who was ‘breathtaking’ in training at Newcastle United

Former Newcastle United manager Steve BruceFormer Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce
Former Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce | Getty Images
Steve Bruce and Allan Saint-Maximin arrived at Newcastle United in the same summer

Steve Bruce has revealed Allan Saint-Maximin “single-handedly” kept Newcastle United afloat under his management.

Signed from Nice for £16million almost five years ago, the winger was the latest in a long line of French mavericks to don the black and white stripes. Few knew much about Saint-Maximin when he arrived but that soon changed with electrifying performances in an otherwise dismal era on Tyneside.

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The now 27-year-old - who left to join Saudi Pro League club Al-Ahli last summer - was one of the key reasons why Newcastle fans looked forward to games during Mike Ashley’s latter days. When Bruce was sacked two weeks after the Saudi-backed takeover, Saint-Maximin publicly shared his appreciation for the manager - one of the only Toon players to do so.

"You are, without a doubt, one of the most gentle people that I have ever met in the world of football,” he posted on social media at the time. "You have been a man of your word, a caring man and a fair man who never hesitated to protect us. I will never forget how you treated me. For that I will be forever grateful.”

Bruce has now opened up about Saint-Maximin’s importance in keeping the Magpies up. Speaking on talkSPORT, the former Newcastle boss joked about the winger’s timekeeping but hailed him for his on-field ability.

“Single-handedly, he did as much as anyone for me at Newcastle,” Bruce said. “He was our ‘out’. We relied on him to do a little bit of magic. Difficult to manage at times, not in a bad way, but he was absolutely adamant he would take his children to school. One was at one school, the other at another!

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“By the time he got in it would be like 9.50am. I’d say ‘You’re supposed to be in at 9.15am Allan, can somebody else not take the children to school?’ It was along those lines, but he loved football.

“He did stuff which only great players can do. He can lift you off your seat. He was worth the admission money (for the fans) alone. Some of the stuff he would do in training was breathtaking.

“I hope he’s doing well. A great, great player. Those two years I had him, Saint-Maximin, for £15million, was a real find.”

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