Birmingham City manager Steve Bruce admitted that the performance of Senegal skipper Aliou Cisse against Patrick Vieira in the World Cup convinced him to sign the midfielder from Paris St Germain.
Bruce had already been alerted to the possibility of 26-year-old Cisse being available after he had been loaned out by his club to Montpelier.
But the way he confronted Vieira in Senegal’s shock 1-0 victory over France in the opening game of the World Cup persuaded Bruce to go through with the deal which is worth around £4.5million.
Ironically, Cisse will have a quick reunion with Vieira as Blues will face Arsenal in their opening Premiership match of the season at Highbury.
Bruce said: ‘‘I’m delighted to get a player of such quality.
‘‘We were alerted to him when PSG let him go on loan for a while and I wanted to watch him on the big stage, namely the World Cup.
‘‘But as soon as I saw his performance against France we confirmed that we would go ahead with the deal.
‘‘You don’t play 80-odd times for PSG if you can’t play, but when I saw his performance against possibly the best midfielder in the world in Vieira it made me push all the buttons to try and make the deal work.
‘‘He is a top performer, a big signing for us, and if we can get two or three more in like him it will help us in our battle to stay in the Premiership.
‘‘Obviously when somebody does well like he did in the World Cup you are wary of having him snatched away from you and there were a few other clubs interested but he wanted to pit his wits in England and we are delighted that he has chosen us.
‘‘We had to put things on hold for a while because Senegal went so far in the World Cup and I didn’t want to interfere with the player when he was on the biggest stage he can be on in his career.
‘‘But now he is our player, and he has got a physical presence about him which we certainly need in the middle of the pitch.
‘‘He can play in various positions but we see him ideally as a defensive midfield player.’’
Bruce is looking for Cisse and his other summer capture Robbie Savage to provide the bite in the centre of the park that he feels that Birmingham will need to compete in the Premiership.
He said: ‘‘With Martin O’Connor and Danny Sonner leaving, we felt it was imperative to get a bit of physical presence about us.
‘‘When the season was over we all felt the midfield area was somewhere where we needed that physical strength and Aliou will give us that with Robbie Savage.’’
Bruce is hoping to add more players to his squad before the end of the month as Blues look to hold onto their top flight status after a 16 year absence.
He said: ‘‘I’ve been linked with 350 players, but we are still looking to strengthen the squad. I hope by the end of July that we will have another two or three bodies in place.
‘‘Five people went in the summer and, even though the squad which got us promotion deserves a chance in the Premiership, we still need the extra bodies to replace those that have gone and to give us that strength in depth.
‘‘It is going to be difficult as any club who have gone up from Division One have discovered, but people have worked ever so hard over the last few years to get Birmingham into the Premiership and it’s paramount that we try and stay in there.’’
Cisse speaks only limited English, but he admitted: ‘‘Steve Bruce was a big factor in me coming to Birmingham City. He was a winner at Manchester United and has already done a good job at this club.
‘‘I wanted to come and play in England in the Premiership. I’ve played in the World Cup and this will be another big stage for me and I hope to do well for the club.’’