Chris Brunt: Kevin Phillips the best West Brom striker

Chris Brunt saw dozens of strikers in Albion colours during his 13-year career with the club – with Kevin Phillips, Peter Odemwingie, Romelu Lukaku, Dwight Gayle and Salomon Rondon making the cut.

Kevin Phillips of West Bromwich Albion goes past Lee Camp of Queens Park Rangers (AMA)
Kevin Phillips of West Bromwich Albion goes past Lee Camp of Queens Park Rangers (AMA)

Explaining some of his decisions on our Baggies Broadcast podcast, Brunt said: “When I first came arrived, I’d never played with anyone of Kevin’s quality.

“As soon as you trained with him, you could see why he scored so many goals and played for England.

“You’d give him the ball in training and he’d take one touch and it was a goal.

“He was a great guy as well – I’d look at him in training and think am I bit out of my depth here. And he would wind you up if you weren’t doing it.

“Back then that’s what happened, I remember back at Sheffield Wednesday older lads firing balls at you to see if you could control it – they would test you out.

“Kev was a bit like that, Robbo (Paul Robinson) as well. They would test you in training to see if you were going to be good enough to play with them. Me and Mozza (James Morrison) had to earn their respect.”

Brunt believes Dwight Gayle was the best loan signing Albion made in his time with the club.

“Gayle is one of them, I used to call him ‘the cheat’ in training because he would be offside or the ball would go out but he would carry on playing,” the 36-year-old continued.

“He was good at everything. We would play golf and he would say I am playing off 15 but he would win by 10 shots.

“But he is a lovely lad and great to have around the place. The effect he had on our squad that season, I was genuinely, gutted to see him go to be honest.

“I texted him after the play-offs (against Villa in 2019), he got sent off in the first game and I got sent off in the second game. He was there watching and I think the two of us felt a fair bit of responsibility for that semi-final.

“I think he is probably the most effective loan player we have ever had at the football club.”

Brunt also explained why Odemwingie, who is now a golf pro, had to be in his squad.

“He was special,” the midfielder added. “The way he left the club was disappointing for him. He lives nearby and I’ve seen him a few times recently. We’re going to play golf together,

“The effect he had on that season was unbelievable. Again he came in as an unknown. And I remember Robbie Di Matteo saying he is really quick so if you can play it in behind he will get there.

“He took off straight away and covered centre-forward and out wide.

“So the following season when Steve Clarke took over he could be shifted out to the left and Shane Long or Lukaku could play through the middle.

“He was a good player and worked really hard for the team.”

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