Steve Bruce was introduced to ‘Billy Whizz’ after signing Andy Robertson.
The Scotland captain is up there with the best left-backs in the world as it stands, but that was not the case when the Geordie boss took a punt on him at Hull City eight years ago. And one episode featuring Carlsberg and the team bus led to great hilarity.
Despite Bruce falling into the ‘baby boomer’ generation, the manager clearly did not spend time reading comics throughout his childhood years.
In charge of Hull City at the time, the gaffer was none the wiser when scout and ex-Burnley chief Stan Ternent used a Billy Whizz reference to explain the talents of a young Andy Robertson.
In a bid to get new talent in the door, Bruce told Ternent exactly what he was needing, reports The Mirror.
“I told Stan, ‘I need some energy in this side – go and see if you can find me a couple of young ones’.”
“He phoned me a couple of weeks later and said: ‘I’ve found a Billy Whizz for you.’ I replied, ‘Who the **** is Billy Whizz?’ I did not have a clue – apparently, he was a character in ‘The Beano’ – a lad who can run phenomenally fast. I saw him and thought, ‘Stan’s right. He’s Billy Whizz, this kid.’
“I brought him in to strengthen the squad but my left-back at the time, Maynor Figueroa, picked up an injury. We played Stuttgart in pre-season and we were in this gigantic, cavernous Mercedes Stadium and I put Andy in. I just thought to myself: ‘What the hell have we got here?’ “
And it soon became clear.
Robertson had arrived from Dundee United for £ 2.8million after a stand-out first campaign in Tayside, during which he was named Scottish Young Player-of-the-Season.
Despite his on-pitch success, the youngster was still to get up to speed in the dressing room, as his former boss revealed.
He said: “We organized a club outing to the races – and Jake Livermore set him up – good and proper. Jake had told him to get a load of beers in. Andy duly obliged.
“He was only 20 years old and was staggering under the weight of two huge Tesco carrier bags when he tried to get on the coach with them.
“Two bags – rammed full of Carlsberg. He clambered aboard and I’ve stopped him and said, ‘Where do you think you’re going with them?’
“He just looked at me and said, ‘What’s the matter?’ I said, ‘You’re supposed to be elite athletes – get that **** ing beer off this **** ing coach.’ He was absolutely terrified.
“I think he thought I was going to sack him – or smack him.
“The lads were absolutely howling with laughter at the back. Did I let them have the beer? What do you think? But he learned a lesson. Next time, he asked.”
Bruce can take pride in helping shape the career of the now Liverpool superstar, who will lead his country out on next week against Ukraine in the World Cup playoff semi-final.
At 28-years-old, Robertson is a real stand out for both club and country.
Speaking on the full back of success, Bruce said: “Watching Andy progress to the level where he is now has been one of the nicest parts of management.
“Andy’s energy is incredible. I’ve seen the statistics. He’s running 12,500m with 1,500m of that at high intensity.
“Those are huge numbers and he does it week after week after week.
“He has a huge determination to succeed. That’s what marks him down as different.
“He arrived at Hull and he thought: ‘I’m going to have a right good go at this.’
“And he did the same at Liverpool. And he’s flourished.
“Two years ago, he invited me into his box at Anfield to watch a game. I think it was a Champions League game against Roma.
“I was so pleased for him. As a manager, it’s one of the best parts of the game – I’m delighted to have played a little part in his development.
“He’s now one of the first names on Jurgen Klopp’s team-sheet. One of the best left-backs in the world playing for one of the world’s best teams. Not bad, that, is it?”