James, before picking a role model (for any field), you need to look at what you enjoy. If it's Java, then what aspect of Java is it that interests you? Mobile computing, distributed computing etc? Sit down and pencil what you enjoy as a developer and where you'd like to be in 10 years time as a ramification of what your doing. At this point, start looking at people out there that are doing it already and doing it well.
My role models have changed through time, but I've always gravitated towards individuals who challenge conventional thinking, they don't accept things as they are and constantly look for improvement (Richard Stallman is one example imho), not only for their own gain, but for their colleagues too. Admittedly, I get tired of people who utter "Spolksy says..." like it's gospel. Joel Spolsky has done some really good things in his career, but you should not blindly accept anything that's uttered from him or from anyone else for that matter. Nothing is gospel, use the information as part of your decision making as opposed to your religion.
As well as positive role models, you should have anti-role models; people you don't want to emulate. In my case, I've listened to developers in conference calls talking to customers about JPanels, device drivers, OEL etc and the usual reply is "Can I get that in English please?". I'd say that's not an exemplary demonstration of how to talk to customers on the phone when pitching for work. If nothing else, it shows you live in a rather restricted world.