Free Kick

ISBN 978014132471

Book 5 in the Football Academy series.

James is a brilliant central defender.  The best player at United and he has a great pedigree: his dad used to play for England.  When the team go to play West Ham United, his dad’s ex-club, everyone is telling James he is going to be an England player too.
But James doesn’t want to be a footballer. He wants to be something else.  And before he tells that to his dad, he has to admit it to himself.

Read the first chapter of Free Kick here.

Watch me read from Free Kick and ask quiz questions here.

Football Academy series
Football Academy series

Find out more about the other books in the Football Academy series here.

Available from your local library, bookshops, Amazon and Kindle.

Published by Puffin Books.

Player Profile

James Cunningham

Name: James Cunningham
Age: 11
Position: central defender
Best friend on team: Ben


Interview with Tom Palmer about writing Free Kick

How can James not want to be a professional footballer?
I’m not sure. If I’d had that chance I’d have given up anything to be a footballer.

So is it realistic to make up a story like that?
I think so. I sometimes try to write about people who would do and think things very different to me. It’s not easy. That’s why I always try to find things about people before I write. I knew a person who had a friend who gave up football. I spoke to him. To see how he felt. That helped me to make James’ character more real. I hope.

Do you ever make up characters based on real people?
All the time. I use names of people I know all the time. In fact, on page 106 of Free Kick there’s a man called Jim in the story. A West Ham fan. He is based on my friend, Jim Sells, who works for the National Literacy Trust. He loves to play guitar, so I gave him a guitar in the book too.


Reviews of Free Kick


“I got all these books this summer. Now this is the latest one. It is really good. James’s dad is a former pro footballer. James plays for United and he doesn’t want to be a footballer any more. Its about how he tells his dad.” A kid’s review, Amazon
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 3 reviews
by Haroon, Westborough, Dewsbury on Free Kick

Free Kick is a wonderful book. I love the tournament. It is my favourite out of all of them.

by Catley on Free Kick

We found this series whilst searching for books for our 9 year old son. He is football mad but absolutely hates reading. These books have made a huge difference to us. Now he can’t wait to do his 30 mins reading each evening and often reads independently. The stories have strong role models and characters that engage the reader.Each gives sound advice and tackle childrens concerns.These books have really contributed to an improvement in our sons learning.

by Finn aged 8 on Free Kick

James was a really good character in the book

Children's Author