Slaven Bilic hails West Brom legend Chris Brunt
West Brom boss Slaven Bilic paid tribute to Chris Brunt’s professionalism after it was confirmed the club captain will leave this summer.
Brunt has made 419 appearances for the Baggies but just nine of those have been this season.
But Bilic believes the Northern Ireland international’s off-field influence has been considerable in helping Albion’s challenge for promotion back to the Premier League.
He said: “The record will show that I am the manager who basically took away his place in the first team starting XI and these situations are very, very hard for players – especially players who are long serving, are leaders, captains of the club.
“When they lose that power on the pitch it is hard to cope with. Every player likes to play but it’s special with these players. To be fair, that is a very complex situation and can cause disturbances around the team and the dressing room.
“But Chris has been brilliant. He cares so much about the club and he’s so professional. He hasn’t dropped one bit in training and he has always been very respectful of the situation.
“From day one, he was always there for me and my staff and the players – he is a proper club captain and he’s still one of the reasons why we are where we are. He’s done a bit on the pitch but he’s done a lot off the pitch.”
Brunt helped Albion to promotion in 2008 and 2010 and is aiming to complete the hat-trick before he departs.
The Baggies will resume their Championship campaign six points clear in second place, with nine matches to play.
Bilic added: “The lads have enormous respect for him, so do all my staff. Sometimes these situations can be difficult but Chris’ professionalism has made it easier for everyone.
“What’s more, he knows that I have had to make my decision and he respects that completely and knows I have only done so from what I see as best for the team.
“He has been brilliant and we all thank him for that.”