David Sharpe, country boy, left Wagga at 18, playing rugby league for the Canberra Raiders when his coach James Mathieson suggested he plan a back up: joining the Australian Federal Police.
Now, AFP Assistant Commissioner David John Sharpe, will be receiving an Australia Day Honour on Thursday, and his life has mirrored his mentor's in many ways: he joined the AFP, always looked to take young officers under his wing and worked with the Raiders on and off through his career
"Football taught me all the skills I needed to be a policeman," Mr Sharpe said.
"Leadership, partnerships, teamwork; you look at the AFP, we do everything in teams."
"Football teaches you everyone has a particular skill, they're not necessarily the best at everything, it's about drawing out their skills to get the best result."
When he joined the AFP, investigations meant sitting in a room with other police, now accountants and online experts were in the room, just some of the skill sets needed in task forces these days.
"It's an exciting time," Mr Sharpe said, and added the new young talent constantly entering the AFP kept giving him reasons to come to work.
As Assistant Commissioner, Mr Sharpe is in charge of Protections Operations, protecting Parliament House, the Prime Minister and foreign dignitaries.
His proudest moment, especially for his Catholic mother, was meeting Pope Francis to brief him on organised crime.
"Everyday there's a pinch yourself moment, you just don't know what you're going to every day, travelling the world," Mr Sharpe said.
He said he was a bit embarrassed but honoured to receive the Australian Police Medal, one of Australian policing's top medals, and to be named in Thursday's Australia Day Honours.
Two of his colleagues, Detective Sergeant Andrea Humphrys and Detective Sergeant Mark Elvin, will also receive the medal as part of Australia Day Honours.
Ms Humphrys has previously been part of United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Cyprus and East Timor and was part of the investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airline flight MH17in the Ukraine.
Mr Elvin has had an extensive career with ACT Policing and has worked with the FBI in drug trafficking investigations and the murder investigation of a Saudi Arabian diplomat in Canberra.