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Steve Bruce has urged Blues fans not to make a snap judgment on the shock £250,000 signing of former Villa hero Dwight Yorke.


Blues hi-jacked the 32-year-old striker's proposed transfer from Blackburn Rovers to Celtic when they heard he prefered a switch to St Andrew's.

At one stage on a dramatic day, officials had Yorke in the Celtic Park boardroom and tried to tempt him to the SPL by offering a better deal.

But in the end Bruce and Blues pulled off another surprise coup - faxing registration details just three minutes before the midnight transfer deadline --which the manager knew would not be entirely popular with fans because of Yorke's Villa past.

He said: "Dwight's turned down a giant of a club in Celtic to come to us. He wanted to stay in the Premier League and he wanted to join us.

"You have to respect that. Villa is in the past and his background was of no concern to him when making his decision. He made it clear he was very keen to play for Birmingham.

"I'm delighted we've got someone of his terrific ability. It's not often a European Cup winner becomes available and I am sure he will add something to what we've got - and be a hit with the fans."

Although Yorke left Manchester United for Rovers in 2002, he spent nine years at Villa Park and achieved iconic status.

Yet he became a target for their fans when he joined United for £12.6million in 1998 - and manager John Gregory memorably fanned the flames of discontent by saying if he'd had a gun, he would have shot Yorke when he informed him he was off.

Yorke, scorer of 64 goals in 151 games for United and a spearhead of their amazing 1999 European Cup victory over Bayern Munich, has signed a one-year deal with a further year's option.

Bruce first registered his interest in Yorke during pre-season when he was out in the cold after a row with Ewood Park boss Graeme Souness.

He gained regular reports on Yorke's fitness and attitude, which were favourable, from his son

Alex when the Trinidad & Tobago star was forced to train with the reserves and left behind when Rovers toured Germany.

Bruce said: "It was a hectic day yesterday. We got a tip-off that Blackburn had agreed to sell him and that he was on his way to Celtic.

"We pulled out all the stops. I managed to get to speak to him and told him that before deciding anything, to give us a shout.

"In fact, Dwight made it clear he would prefer to join us and although it was touch-and-go we managed to push it through."

With Blues struggling to convert chances into goals and Mikael Forssell out of sorts, Yorke could provide a perfect tonic for the attack. Bruce said: "He's proven at the highest level and is a great athlete. I've no qualms about him." Yorke said: "I'm relishing the opportunity to continue my Premiership career with a progressive club like Birmingham City. "I greatly admire what Steve Bruce has achieved in his time at Birmingham and I believe it is a club which is going places and I very much look forward to being part.