If sport really does reveal character as opposed to building it, then a couple of midweek cameos concerning Carlisle United were worth observing.

Firstly, the silly Snapchatting by some of the Blues’ young players, who described Carlisle City as a “team of 50-year-olds” then proceeded to lose to them.

Little more needs to be said about that beyond City boss Jim Nichols’ curt advice that those involved should go home, take a look at themselves and learn a bit of humility before their precarious careers vanish like sand through their fingers.

They might also consider what real professional character looks like at a young footballing age.

Sitting a couple of rows back from the small media contingent at Gillford Park on Tuesday night was a player not long turned 20, quietly watching the game, supporting his colleagues by his presence.

News and Star: Simeu has impressed in United's defence under Paul Simpson (photo: Richard Parkes)Simeu has impressed in United's defence under Paul Simpson (photo: Richard Parkes)

As a defender with a Premier League club, Dynel Simeu could have no doubt thought of other ways to spend his time than attending a Cumberland Cup semi-final. Instead, he and team-mate Tobi Sho-Silva made the trip to Carlisle City, to talk and to spectate.

Good on them. Especially Simeu, who is only on loan at United until May but increasingly gives the impression that he is not just happy to be here but wouldn’t, right now, choose to be anywhere else.

If there is a face of Carlisle United’s revival on the pitch it is increasingly that of Simeu, roaring to the gods after another victory. Even before the Blues were set right by Paul Simpson he was at it, giving it large with the away fans at a draw with Colchester United which left only a thin line between Carlisle and absolute desolation in their latter run under Keith Millen.

Now, the centre-half is becoming an iconic feature of this great about-turn, and it is right for other reasons that it is Simeu front and centre. If the past month has told us that there is no losing cause that the right manager cannot arrest, it’s also shown us that certain players, contrary to first impressions, are absolutely made of the right stuff.

News and Star: Like Simeu, Danny Livesey had a tough start at Carlisle, but showed character to come through it (photo: Stuart Walker)Like Simeu, Danny Livesey had a tough start at Carlisle, but showed character to come through it (photo: Stuart Walker)

As ever, it is the hardest times that show the most. We have seen it before at Carlisle, and under Simpson. Back in late 2004, the manager gave a mid-season introduction to another young defender signed from the Premier League.

His debut was not, it's fair to say, received well by the Blue Army. In some quarters the young chap was written off as one of the worst centre-halves to don the United shirt.

Happily, things went rather better from there and by the time he left in 2014, Danny Livesey had completed 333 Carlisle appearances, won two promotions, been named in a League One team of the year and established an admired reputation as the sort of player who'd sooner lose limbs before he willingly conceded a goal.

The fact he’s still going now, playing through a fractured collarbone for Chester, for heaven’s sake, is yet more late-career evidence of exactly what Simpson and United recruited from Bolton all that time ago.

Livesey was aware of the initial scathing treatment. So was his dad, who called Danny one evening early into his time in Cumbria and joked, ‘I hear things are going well for you up there, son…’

Character brought Livesey through, while Simeu’s very early Blues outings brought similarly cutting reviews. The player himself has admitted things did not get off to the best of starts, yet these are the exact moments you can tell whether someone’s going to survive or vanish.

News and Star: Simeu was a top target of former boss Keith Millen (photo: Amy Nixon)Simeu was a top target of former boss Keith Millen (photo: Amy Nixon)

Things were ramped up in Simeu’s case because Carlisle’s predicament was at its most perilous for years. United’s circumstances at the time absolutely depended on him finding his feet quickly. We were told that the defender had been Millen's top target. The reasons for this had to show themselves urgently.

At which point, two things happened. First, Simpson adopted a back five system, offering numerical help to a defence that was leaking.

It has unquestionably helped. But it’s not everything. United had tried such a system before this season without success. At Hartlepool last August, Chris Beech attempted it with such poor results that the verdict was sharp and damning. One fan on Twitter came up with a very creative suggestion of what the head coach could do with his back five, involving Blackpool and a hamster. Best not go there.

Millen gave it a brief run too. Only now, though, has it been effective and as much as Simpson’s tactical instincts have been right, it has also required an amount of will and resolve from those selected to carry things out.

And here's the enriching conclusion: with the Blues’ Football League status on the line, with a potentially historical reckoning the risk, these young players stood up and performed. In Simeu’s case they also showed great and honest improvement.

News and Star: Richard Parkes' iconic picture of Simeu celebrating after last weekend's victory at BarrowRichard Parkes' iconic picture of Simeu celebrating after last weekend's victory at Barrow

“The lads love to banter me because I ask so many questions, but I’m here to learn so that’s not going to stop,” he said the other week. Simpson described United as the ideal “university” for the defender, and Simeu himself has said it is important, at this or any professional juncture, to be a “sponge”

He does not, let's be honest, appear the sort to fire up Snapchat and say something foolish or arrogant about United’s next opponents. The moments worth milking are, instead, after games, when the Blues have won, and this dreadlocked young star can show supporters what it really means, and endear himself some more, the job having been done.

And now, some of the people wondering whether United had signed a dud in January are wondering in March if he might grace us with his presence next season. That’s the product of true resolve. That’s character. I reckon, in his own good time, Simeu will one day be roaring in front of bigger crowds, and on bigger stages.