Fed up with footballers brawling, gambling and wallowing in their over-inflated celebrity status? Then meet Liam Rosenior.
He plays at right back for Fulham. He’s 22, he’s intelligent and he is refreshingly opinionated.
Not once in half an hour does he threaten to take every game as it comes or complain about a game of two halves. At home in south London, he plays Scrabble and watches Question Time.
Oh, and one other thing, he may soon be playing for England.
Rosenior said: “When I was younger I liked to be out with the lads after a game, having a few drinks and a meal. But this week I’ve played about 10 games of Scrabble with my missus.
“I watch Question Time on a Thursday evening and go to sleep with a cup of cocoa. So I’ve changed as a person, but I like that change. The lads say I’m boring but it’s only banter. They know there’s been a change in me off the pitch and it’s given me a lot more respect.”
Rosenior plans to marry fiancee Erica next year and his new maturity has been reflected on the pitch, where he has established himself as a Fulham regular.
He was overlooked by England this month when Steve McClaren handed a debut to Manchester City teenager Micah Richards in the absence of Gary Neville but Fulham manager Chris Coleman is certain he can develop into an international footballer.
Rosenior said: “If you mature as a man, you mature as a player as well. When I first came to Fulham I was a boy. Now I’m a man and people at the club don’t look at me as a boy any more.
“I’m engaged, I’m settled down and I’m happy. You appreciate what you’ve got a bit more but I haven’t lost my ambition.
“I was delighted for Micah because I’ve known him from the Under 21s but any young player can see that Steve McClaren has given him a chance, so they must have a chance as well.
“I’m a confident person and I think I’m good enough. This is my profession. I have a great opportunity now to push on and be an international footballer and I don’t want to let that go.”
Rosenior left school at 16 with nine GCSEs – five grade As and four A stars – and signed for Bristol City, where his father Leroy was a coach.
He was often given a rough time by the other youngsters and accused of benefiting from preferential treatment because of his dad, but it helped toughen him up.
Leroy was a striker who had three spells at Fulham and Liam cherishes fond memories of kicking balls around with Paul Ince and Liam Brady during his days at West Ham.
Brother Daron, 20, rebelled and took up rugby and now plays for Rosslyn Park but, for Liam, it was always football.
He said: “We had a meeting when I was 15 with my mum and dad. My dad didn’t want me to be a footballer. When they asked me if I wanted to go for football or go to university, there was only one answer. My dad said: ‘If you do football you have to do it properly and make sacrifices or you will be throwing away your chance of a good career’.”
Leroy was sacked as Brentford manager this week and will make the most of a rare chance to watch his son play against Reading at Craven Cottage.
Liam said: “It’s a shame what happened at Brentford. My little sister is two and my dad’s got another baby on the way. Does he stay in football? Does he look outside? Does he go and get qualifications?
“That was a tough job at Brentford and he was treated poorly. He got them playing really good football and it takes time to develop a different way of thinking. You can’t do it in six months.
“Superman would find it hard to do that. But my dad goes about business in his own way and I’m proud of him for doing that.”
This background in the game and his emotional connection with the lower leagues is just one more reason why Rosenior Jnr fails to fit the one dimensional image of a Premiership star.
He said: “Premiership footballers in general are given this label as guys who buy £100,000 cars and go out every night to top restaurants and top clubs and wear ridiculous jewellery but, beneath the surface, there are a lot of articulate and intelligent footballers.
“It upsets me that it gets on the front page when a footballer is in a brawl. I’m not saying footballers have a hard time because we’re well paid but doesn’t compare to what’s really happening. There are things going on in the Middle East that are truly scary.”