There are few things in life more satisfying than finding that the people you have admired from afar actually turn out to be every bit as brilliant as you dared hope.

The highlight of my days as a Swindon Town fan was when Lou Macari was in charge of the team in the 1980s.

They may have lacked the finesse of Ardiles and Hoddle, but Macari’s players made up for it with big hearts, and it was easy to see where they got their inspiration.

Macari’s off-the-field charisma was legendary at the County Ground, and one of my greatest regrets was that when I got a job on the sports desk of this paper, he had moved to another club.

Almost as disappointing was Town later appointing managers - two in particular - who lacked Macari’s brains and heart, and didn’t understand that running a club like ours is about far more than just football.

As manager of Stoke City, Macari famously put fan Neil Baldwin (aka Nello) in charge of the kit, which eventually led to one of the most heartwarming docu-dramas ever seen on television.

If you’ve never watched it, find it on YouTube - because it’s not called Marvellous for nothing.

Then, last week, I happened across a reference to a project that Lou Macari has been involved in since 2016.

As a former player with Celtic and Manchester United, I guess he could enjoy a pretty glamorous retirement from football, but instead chooses to spend a lot of his time helping homeless people in the Potteries.

He set up a shelter for them (The Macari Centre), but if you visit, you will see he is not just a figurehead, but rather hands-on, and gives it a lot of his time.

The last thing politicians want is for popular footballers to show them up by demonstrating their humanity, which is one reason why a certain national newspaper is trying to discredit that other Manchester United star, Marcus Rashford, while the rest of us marvel at his humanitarian efforts.

You would have to be pretty sad not to notice how genuinely caring they are, and even more cynical not to take your hat off to people like Rashford and Macari.

And that’s not to say, either, that we don’t also recognise the work for good causes that millions of ‘ordinary’ people do, including for the homeless.

I have seen that at first hand, too, firstly through my sister-in-law, Sarah, who gives up her free time to help feed homeless people in Swindon - and secondly after recently interviewing a resident at Swindon’s Salvation Army hostel, Booth House.

His story will eventually appear on a new website to be launched by Recycles, the social enterprise linked to the hostel, where the main message is always: just because you are homeless, it doesn’t mean we’re not on your side.

I can think of nobody it would be better to have on your side than Lou Macari.