This interview appeared in FYP issue 27 - December 2011
There are some players who thrive on pressure, there are some who can't handle it, and then there are some like Bruce Dyer who barely even notice it.
Dyer was just 19 when he moved from Watford to Place for £1.1m - making him the first ever teenager to be bought for more than a million pounds. But the confident young striker just took it all in his stride and despite having a career that was sometimes trying, is now finding a new lease of life.
FYP sat down with Bruce to talk about his time at Palace.
FPY: So, one million smackeroonies eh? After inflation that's like a gazillion trillion pounds in today’s money terms. Were you not even a little bit scared?
BD: Not really. I was a young kid, I was pretty confident and I just enjoyed playing football so when the move came about for me it wasn't a pressure thing it was actually a chance to realise my dream of playing in the Premiership. It was a really exciting time for me and my family. I wasn't really even thinking about the fee, I was more thinking about the football and the possibility of me getting into the Premiership, that's what was really driving me.
Well and the chance to show off that cool slanted high top fade you were sporting at the time. How much did you know about Palace before you joined?
All I could remember was that Ian Wright and Mark Bright played for them, I remember watching The Big Match on Sundays as I was growing up. Wrighty was one of my heroes and also in my career and you always associate Palace with Ian Wright.
He never had a high top fade though. You joined at a great time, Alan Smith's team were about to be Division One champions and had some class players. Was it easy to fit in?
Yeah definitely, in my career that's definitely up there in terms of enjoyment; the training, the banter with the lads, it was a good time. There was some characters, Chris Coleman was a character in the dressing room I can tell you.
But you didn't feature much that season.
I never let things like that phase me, you just get on with it. My mindset was always to be the best professional you can be and once you're doing all you can to that's all you can do. Obviously it can get a bit discouraging but you've just got to keep going. At the time we weren't doing great and Alan Smith brought in [hypnotist] Paul Mckenna but if I'm honest I'm not into all that palaver. It was a funny season, I didn't feature that much which I was a bit disappointed with, as I remember I had a really good Under-21 tournament in Toulan, which we won and where I finished top goalscorer, but at Palace I just didn't get a look in.
But the next time Palace went up in 1997 you were top scorer and played with Attilio freaking Lombardo. What was that like?
He was just a great professional. Just his humility - he was a really, really nice guy and such a good player. I remember as a kid watching him at Juve so to train and play with him was great, you could see there was something different about him. There were other greats too - Chris Armstrong, he was special at Palace; Dougie, Shipps, Coleman was a rock at the back, Nigel Martyn; there's so many players! Honestly when I look back over the years at the players that I was privileged to play with - there was some great players there.
Speaking of Dougie, he's now gaffer at Palace and doing rather well. Did you see that one coming?
No I didn't if I’ll be honest, I really didn't. I'm surprised. I wouldn't have called that one. There's some you can call and I wouldn't have called Chris Coleman being a manager either, cos he was too much of a joker. Likewise with Dougie I just wouldn't have called it, but he's doing really well, it's good to see and I wish Dougie all the best.
And how do you see Palace at the moment? On the up?
For me it's all about survival at the minute and getting a bit of stability. Palace has always been a yo-yo club, Premiership, Championship, Premiership again. So if they can just ride the storm, get a bit of stability they'll be ok. Palace is known for always getting good youth coming through so it wouldn't surprise me at all if one day you see Palace again in the Premiership. Palace fans have been good to me, on Twitter I get tweets from a lot of Palace fans and they’ve always been good to me - I'm grateful. Even from my toughest times, I'd like to think they were pretty patient with me and I think overall I did ok for Palace. There's been a few clubs I've been at that have been landmarks in my career that I can never forget and Palace is definitely one of them.
And just like Palace have got themselves back together again, you're helping people with Love Life UK.
It's been really, really good, it's been life changing for me especially working in the prisons. It's really captivated my heart, and by the grace of God hopefully making a difference to someone's life. It's more special to me than playing football.
For more info on Love Live UK visit www.lovelifeuk.org.