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Authors: Dan Freedman

Golden Goal

BOOK: Golden Goal
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PRAISE FOR THE JAMIE JOHNSON SERIES

“You'll read this and want to get out there and play”
Steven Gerrard

“True to the game … Dan knows his football”
Owen Hargreaves

“An inspiring read for all football fans”
Gary Lineker

“If you like football, this book's for you”
Frank Lampard

“Jamie could go all the way”
Jermain Defoe

“Pure class – brings the game to life”
Owen Coyle

“I love reading about football and it doesn't get much better than this”
Joe Hart

“Pure joy”
The Times

“Inspiring”
Observer

“Gripping”
Sunday Express

“A resounding victory”
Telegraph

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Dan Freedman grew up wanting to be a professional footballer. That didn't happen. But he went on to become a top football journalist, personally interviewing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, David Beckham and Sir Alex Ferguson. He uses his passion and knowledge of football to write the hugely popular series of Jamie Johnson football novels. When he is not writing, Dan delivers talks and workshops for schools. And he still plays football whenever he can.

www.danfreedman.co.uk
www.jamiejohnson.info
Follow Dan on
Twitter @DanFreedman99

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

Thanks to:

My family – a great team to have behind me.

Joanne – for being such a beautiful muse.

Caspian Dennis, Ena McNamara, Lola Cashman and Sir Trevor Brooking – for your wise advice.

Martin Hitchcock – for telling me I could write.

Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe – for your support.

Jason Cox – for your fantastic illustrations.

Major – you see things that I don't.

Hazel Ruscoe – this story is inspired by the ideas we had together.

Jo Budd, Anne Romilly, Alex Stone, Ralph Newbrook, Jim Sells and Joe Lyons – for everything you have done to help Jamie Johnson on his way.

And to Sarah Stewart and all the other talented and hard-working people at Scholastic – you have made this all possible…

Contents

Cover

Praise for the Jamie Johnson Series

About the Author

Title Page

Acknowledgements

Play On

Part One

Chapter 1: Time to Shine

Chapter 2: Three Amigos

Chapter 3: Give it to Jamie

Chapter 4: Free-Kick Special

Chapter 5: Jamie's Move

Chapter 6: A Striker's Hunger

Chapter 7: Remember the Name

Chapter 8: "The Night is Young"

Chapter 9: Paper Talk

Chapter 10: Driving Ambition

Chapter 11: The Boss

Chapter 12: Behind the Dressing-Room Door

Chapter 13: Bunking Off

Chapter 14: Match Report

Chapter 15: Hanging Up

Chapter 16: Text Alert

Chapter 17: The Next Big Thing

Chapter 18: The Results

Part Two

Chapter 19: A Bad Dream

Chapter 20: Bolt From the Past

Chapter 21: Friday Night

Chapter 22: The Phone Call

Chapter 23: One New Message

Chapter 24: Back to Sunningdale

Chapter 25: Archie Fairclough

Chapter 26: Straight Talking

Chapter 27: Familiar Foe

Chapter 28: Moving the Goalposts

Chapter 29: The Playmaker

Chapter 30: Knocking on the Door

Chapter 31: Dillon's Pants

Chapter 32: One Man Down

Chapter 33: Alive Again

Chapter 34: Jamie's Choice

Chapter 35: No Regrets

Chapter 36: The Boy Can Play

Chapter 37: The Boot's on the Other Foot

Chapter 38: Life Goes in Circles

Chapter 39: Chance to be a Hero

Chapter 40: Battle Begins

Chapter 41: One Way Out

Chapter 42: Nothing to Lose

Chapter 43: Moment of Truth

Chapter 44: The Test

Chapter 45: Slaying the Wolf

Chapter 46: Golden Goal

Extra-Time

Interview with Dan Freedman

Back Ads

Copyright

 

 

 

 

 

 

A young boy sits on his grandfather's couch. He has grazes, cuts and wounds all over his legs from where the other boys have fouled him. It was the only way they had been able to stop him…

He squeezes his eyes tight shut as his grandfather puts plasters over his injuries. It hurts…

The grandfather scuffs up the boy's hair with the palm of his hand and smiles…

“If they foul you, JJ, it means they're scared of you. Just keep coming back for more…”

 

 

 

Jamie Johnson picked up his gleaming new football boot and kissed it for good luck. Then he slipped his left foot into it.

There were just ten minutes to go until the kick-off of the Youth Cup Final and Foxborough's Academy Director, Steve Brooker, had his young team gathered around him in the dressing room.

“OK, lads, I'm going to keep this brief,” he said, looking each one of the players in the eye as he talked.

“You know why we've brought you to this club. We believe that you have something about you – as a footballer and a person – that marks you out as different … that marks you out as a Foxborough player.

“Now the question is: can you bring those attributes, that talent, to the table when it matters most? It's all very well turning it on in training or beating a team in a friendly. But can you do it in a game like tonight – with a full stadium, live on TV, with a proper trophy at stake?

“The truth is that probably only one or two of you will make it into the Foxborough First Team. That's just the way football is. But don't forget, all the other clubs will be watching tonight. This is the biggest advertisement your talent will ever have…

“And I'm not going to lie to you either. We all know that Foxborough is a rich club. The manager can go out any time he wants and buy a fully-paid-up superstar. So why would he pick
any
of you to go into his first team?

“Why? I'll tell you why: because you are all special footballers.”

Steve was pacing back and forth along the dressing-room floor in front of his players. Then he turned and stood perfectly still, his eyes shining with intent.

“There are three types of people in life,” he said. “There are those who, for whatever reason, do not or cannot recognize an opportunity when it arises. There are those who
do
recognize an opportunity but find themselves unable to take it. And then there are those who see the opportunity and seize it with both hands.

“Tonight, it's time for you to go and show the world who you are and everything we have been working on… Now go and win that trophy!”

As the two teams walked out on to the pristine Foxborough pitch, the bright beam of the floodlights focused their glare on Jamie Johnson – at fifteen the youngest player on either side. He felt a sudden chill of fear shiver up his spine towards his skull.

There were lots of good reasons for him to be nervous tonight. This was the first live TV match that he had ever played in. It was also the first game he had ever played at The Lair, Foxborough's home ground, the biggest stadium in the country. And the referee had his whistle in his mouth and was about to get this crucial game under way any second now...

But the real reason Jamie's body had become stiff with tension was that the big electronic screens inside the stadium had just shown that the entire Foxborough First Team squad, including their captain, Dave Lewington, were all in the ground tonight. They had received a huge cheer from the crowd when they had come up on the screen.

And, as if the players being there wasn't enough, Brian Robertson, manager of Foxborough and one of the most successful managers in the history of football, was also in the crowd.

Tonight, he would be watching Jamie Johnson … and judging him.

 

 

Seeing Brian Robertson up in the stands had released a curse of nerves in Jamie's body.

He held his hand out in front of him. It was quivering like a crossbar rocked by a thunderbolt of a shot.

He tried to calm himself down. It was still just a football match. All the same rules applied: eleven players against eleven players; whoever scored more goals would win the game. Simple. He just had to get the ball and do his stuff.

But it was no good. Deep down, his stomach had a direct line through his body to his brain and it was saying something else. This wasn't just like any other game. It was the start of his Foxborough career. And he was being watched by Brian Robertson…

As the two teams lined up to shake each other's hands, Jamie took his usual place in between his two room-mates. Xabi Negredo and Antony Asamoah were Jamie's two best mates in the whole team and the three of them were the best players too.

Xabi was a young Spanish left back who tackled so hard they had given him the nickname “The Butcher”. Meanwhile, Antony Asamoah, the striker from Ghana, was as fast as lightning. So they called him Bolt.

Standing side by side with The Butcher and Bolt, Jamie could feel his heart start to rise with hope.

They were the
Three Amigos
. All completely different. All great mates. And all fantastic footballers. Between them, they had all the talent required to destroy any team.

Now they just had to go and prove it.

Almost immediately, Foxborough's game plan evaporated in front of them. Steve Brooker had specifically ordered his team not to give away any set pieces in the first fifteen minutes. So Jamie couldn't believe it when they conceded a corner with only three minutes on the clock.

Panic began to spread throughout the Foxborough defence; no one knew who to mark or who was supposed to attack the ball… Then, when the corner came in, Robbie Walters, the Foxborough centre back and captain, made such a wild slash at his attempted clearance that the ball ended up spinning off the outside of his boot and spiralling into the roof of his own net.

It was a horrific own goal. Foxborough were already a goal down.

The worst possible start for Jamie and his teammates.

Steve Brooker immediately came out from his dugout to the edge of the technical area to try and urge a response from his team but, for some reason, on this, their big night, they just couldn't find their rhythm.

Yes, they had Bolt, who was six foot two and as fast as anything upfront. And yes, they had Jamie Johnson, the most skilful player on the pitch, out on the wing. But if Foxborough couldn't get them the ball, what use were they?

Jamie only had one chance to go on a run during the whole of the first half. And he went around his marker so easily that he knew he could take him any time he wanted. But no one was passing him the ball to give him the opportunity to do it again.

It was only Robbie Walters – making amends for his earlier own goal with a looping header just before half-time – that had got Foxborough back on level terms. And they were lucky to be there.

As the Foxborough players trudged back to the dressing room, each one of them knew that they had let themselves down. And, if they didn't, Steve Brooker was just about to remind them.

BOOK: Golden Goal
12.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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