My son announced recently that he would like a Manchester United football shirt with Wayne Rooney’s name on the back.
Hardly unusual, I know. He’s just like many other boys – and girls – entranced by the superstars who get paid millions to kick a bag of wind around.
As Rooney is one of the best at it, children naturally want to be like him. And that means having his name on their backs as they go for a kickabout in the park and dream of scoring the winning goal in a cup final.
But is Rooney a suitable role model for impressionable children up and down the land?
Personally, I would much prefer my son to model himself on rugby players such as Jonny Wilkinson rather than Premiership footballers who have questionable morals and more money than sense.
Rugby people have a saying that their sport is a hooligans’ game played by gentlemen, while football is a gentlemen’s game played by hooligans. And there’s a lot of truth in that.
But as Toft junior remains transfixed by the round ball game while his dad much prefers the oval version (and is eagerly anticipating the start of the World Cup this week), I need to come up with some more alternative sporting role models.
And who better than Oscar Pistorius, the South African athlete who runs on two carbon fibre prosthetic legs?
His story of refusing to be defined by his disability, then having to challenge the athletics authorities who didn’t want him to run against able-bodied athletes, is a truly inspirational one.
In 2007, Pistorius was banned from athletic competition, only for that decision to be overturned the following year.
His qualification for and appearance in the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea was history in the making.
He didn’t win, but he made the semi-final in the individual 400m and the final of the 4x400m relay.
Yet just by being there, this modest and honourable man proved how incredibly determined he must be. In Oscar’s world, nothing is impossible and no barriers cannot be overcome.
Rooney or Pistorius? No contest.