Desperately Needed – Role models for our children

Here are four I've found but I need more! Can you help me?

The story of Damiano Tommasi is a fantastic example of how Christians can challenge greed and selfishness. This international Italian player became a hero in Italy for asking his team to pay him only the minimum wage! When he was playing for Roma in 2005, this devout Catholic man instructed his club to pay him a salary of just over £1,000 a month. This is nothing short of staggering. After being injured and unable to play for the team, Damiano said he simply wanted to return to playing football at the highest level and economic considerations were low on his list of priorities. A modest salary was enough for his needs, he said, and he was still earning more than many ordinary Italians. This really is good news. Damiano does not want the privileges of a celebrity god. He is happy with enough. Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Cristiano Ronaldo could learn a great deal about the kingdom of God from this inspiring man.

Tresor Lomana LuaLua is a top Christian professional whose life merits investigation. Lomana has played for Colchester United, Newcastle United and Portsmouth. He is particularly famous for his spectacular goal celebration of several backflips and a backward somersault. (Don't try this at home). Lomana comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo and there are some inspiring stories of this acrobatic footballer visiting old people and paying their medical bills. He has also set up a day centre for some of his country's poorest people.

Consider the life of Kaka. He is a devout evangelical Christian and at the end of Milan's 2007 Champion's League triumph he removed his jersey to reveal an "I belong to Jesus" T-shirt. He has the words "God is faithful" stitched onto the tongues of his boots and he often engages in public acts of prayer without any timidity or bashfulness. His goal celebration consists of him pointing to the sky as a gesture of thanks to God and he is proud that he was a virgin when he married. By all accounts he is humble, gracious and has time for everyone. He isn't perfect but his life embodies a worldview that challenges the empty, jaded hedonism that pervades the beautiful game

Former Gunners Ace Gilberto da Silva is not only a great player but a great person. He has very strong Christian beliefs. For example as a young, highly promising pro, he gave up football for 5 months in order to be with his mum when she was very ill. He wanted to support his family both emotionally and economically. All his friends thought he was totally crazy! But Gilberto lacked their tunnel vision. Thankfully his mother did not die but recovered. Gilbherto said,

I believe in God. I know a lot of people who don't. I am a Catholic and I think when you make a sacrifice in your life you are repaid in the future – and that's what happened with me."

He is now very grateful to God for his present happy life. He is very glad he can help his family, friends and their children. He helped support a 17-day tour of Brazil last summer by a group of homeless players from the UK. Organized by Street League, a scheme for homeless refugees and asylum-seekers, it gave the group a chance to see that life in Brazil can be even tougher than here. A delighted Gilberto revealed that, since returning, one player had joined a club, another was coaching and a third had landed a decent job.

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