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Dan Freedman (TheodoreWood)Football has been a massive part of my life since I went to my first game, aged around three. In fact, I’m lying! I didn’t like that first game too much. But my dad took me back the next week and from then on, it was pretty much game over. Football was my thing.

I loved playing it – still do – but when it finally dawned on me that I might not be quite good enough to be a professional I set my mind on trying to work out if I could still be a part of the game somehow.
It seemed to me that the next best thing to playing the game was watching it so my new ambition was to become a football journalist.

I started early. You can see here my first ever published work of football writing – a letter that I sent into Shoot! magazine when I was 13! Then, while I was still at school, I did lots and lots of work experience at different, newspapers, tv and radio stations. You can also see articles I had published in the Mail of Sunday and Daily Express.

Those experiences gave me the taste of what it was like to be involved in football and the confidence to believe I could go on and achieve it.

First published - Shoot!
First published – Shoot!

My really big break came when, just after I’d left University, I got offered a job at The Football Association. It was a dream come true for me, just as it would be for any football fan. Imagine going into work every day at the organisation which actually ‘runs’ football. I had to pinch myself everyday that I sat at my desk.

Within two years I was travelling to the 2002 World Cup Finals, which were held in Korea and Japan. As The FA’s Editor, it was my job to interview all of the England players and report on their matches. As someone who’d grown up watching the likes of Beckham and Owen, to be living and working with them, day in and day out was a truly unbeatable experience.

As a journalist too, mixing with and getting to know the best football writers in the country was a great education.

As time went on, and my confidence grew, I ended up getting to know almost all the players that played for the Three Lions. Rooney, Gerrard, Walcott and Ferdinand were all kind enough to let me interview them, sometimes on several occasions as I set up The England Team’s first ever in-house TV channel.

Early writing for The Daily Mail
Early writing for The Daily Mail

And it wasn’t just England either. I wrote the FA Cup Final programmes too, which meant coming face to face with some of the top club managers and their players. As Manchester United were the most successful team in the country I worked closely with them over a number of years and there’s no doubt that three of my favourite ever interviews were those that I conducted with Roy Keane, Cristiano Ronaldo and, of course, Sir Alex Ferguson.

Since I left The FA in 2007 to concentrate on my writing, I’ve still kept all my contacts in the game and do as much freelance work as I can. Working as an Editor with the Premier League and FIFA over the last couple of years has kept me up-to-date with everything that’s happening in the game, including giving me the opportunity to interview Lionel Messi in 2009.

I realise I’ve been really lucky but I also know that there’s nothing special about me. These jobs are out there. The difficult part is working out what it is that you really want to do. Once you know that, it’s about doing everything you can to achieve it.

Rio Ferdinand and Dan
Rio Ferdinand and Dan

Frequently asked quick-fire questions

What made you want to go into writing?I wanted to share the amazing experiences I’d been lucky enough to have in football through a compelling story that would draw people in.

Who is the most famous player you’ve interviewed? CR7. (a.k.a Cristiano Ronaldo!) I interviewed him twice. We got on quite well.

How old were you when you started writing? – 13 or 14. I wrote to every newspaper in the country asking if I could come and do work experience doing my school holidays.

Why do you love football so much? – Incredible unscripted drama. The magic of a goal. The reflections of life. The escape from life. Connecting with people that you might not otherwise know or be able to communicate with. That moment when a player beats their opponent with a flourish of skill…

Which is the biggest match that you have ever reported on?The 2002 World Cup Quarter Final between England and Brazil.

How did you come up with the ideas of Jamie Johnson?They are all based on people, players or moments that I have met in life down the years. Football and life are so rich, you don’t need to make stories up.

Which JJ book is your favourite?That’s like asking a parent which is your favourite child!

Will you write another Jamie Johnson book? – If people want more, I would hate to disappoint them…

When will Series 3 of ‘Jamie Johnson’ come out?2018

Will you ever write a different series of books?Look out for a brand new book coming in 2018…

Dan and John Terry
Dan and John Terry

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What they say

‘Pure joy’
The Times

‘A hot talent in children’s literature’
The Daily Mail

‘Drama you can’t beat’
Sunday Express

‘A must for junior football fans’
The Observer

‘He’s writing every reader’s fantasy’
TheBookbag.co.uk

‘If this page turner doesn’t tempt a few away from the Xbox, heaven help them’
The Financial Times

‘Action packed, never a dull moment and thouroughly recommended!’
Theschoolrun.com
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120 Responses

  1. Hi,
    After your talk on Thursday the group want to know if there is a way we can look at the Jamie Johnson TV programme.

    Yours sincerely,

    7zLit1

  2. Hi Dan freedman we really enjoyed you coming to our school we all love your book’s.Keep being a author your books are fab.from Lilly and Rosie.

      1. Hi Dan I finally finished reading your cool football books Iam from Krishna avinti primary school that you will go to in January bye Dan and please can you write new books please BYE DANNNN!

  3. Hi Dan,
    I have just started secondary school and in literacy we have to do a 4 week homework project on our favourite author. I have chosen you, I have read all your books and I love football. Can you let me know what you did at university and also did you come across any obstacles when you were starting to write your books and if you’ll did how did you get over them,
    Thanks
    George

    1. Hi George,

      Thanks for your kind words! And good questions…

      I actually went to Uni to study Politics & Philosophy…but after a couple of weeks I realised I had made a very big mistake and that I really missed English. I managed to swap courses and the three years that I spent studying English Literature were really helpful in me later becoming an author.

      Lots and lots of obstacles in writing the books – not least the first book because, at the time, I’d never written a book before in my life. It isn’t easy!

      The main obstacle was being rejected by many publishers and agents. They just weren’t interested. But I always asked them why they were rejecting me and some of their feedback (for example, that I shouldn’t make Jamie Johnson too ‘nice’ as ‘nice’ characters don’t make for very interesting characters) was really helpful.

      Also, the support of friends and family when I was being turned down was vital too…

      Hope the project goes well, George. Feel free to send it to me when you’re done.

      Maybe we can publish it on the website…

      Cheers,

      dan

  4. Hi Dan I heard that you are coming to our school, Chiltern hills academy . I look forward to asking you a lot of questions and when exactly are you coming because I don’t know.

    1. I’m with you this week and really looking forward to meeting you all and answering all your questions. Make sure you prepare some good ones as there will be a prize for the best one in school which will then be entered for our best question of month! Dan

      1. Hi Dan I won the prize for the best question at Chiltern hills academy and you gave me 5 pounds and a small ball and your book with your signature so I want to give you a sincere thanks

        1. No probs – you deserved it. Asking good questions (and listening to the answers) are two of the most important skills you can develop in your life.

  5. Hi Dan
    really looking forward to you coming to Chiltern Hills Academy tomorrow.
    Love your website it is really good for the homework that we got.
    Elli

  6. Hi Dan I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at our school. This website is very helpful for my homework that is to create a fact file about you. Could you please tell me what other characters are there in your books.

    1. I am glad it has helped you Shamillah. There are lots of characters in the books including Jamie’s best friend Jack, his Mum and of course his Granddad, Mike.

  7. Hi Dan your coming to my school tom could you tell me a bit about your education and characters in your book
    Can’t wait to ask u my questions
    Thanks
    Alishah

  8. We have just finished reading Final Whistle after reading the first five books in the series as well. Tell us that there is going to be a follow-up book!

  9. Hi dan, doing a biography.
    Which school did you go to?
    What do you like to do in your spare time?
    Do you have any children and if so who are they?

    1. Sounds interesting Matthew, maybe you could send me a copy when you have written it …

      My schools were St Anthony’s and UCS, both in London.
      In my spare time I love to play football and watch a good game! I also like to catch up with my friends, go for a walk and also go to the cinema.
      No, I don’t have any children.

  10. Hi dan I’m doing a project about ‘the kick off’ i need to write a pretend letter and i need to set it out properly wats your address you know the one what you put in the top right hand corner pls reply ASAP

    1. That would be my publisher’s address, which you can find by clicking on the Contact tab on my website. Good luck with your project!

    1. Tottenham, I have since my Dad took me to watch them play when I was three. I’m hoping they win this afternoon!

      1. Dan which footballer gave you the inspiration to create Jamie Johnson and who do you think is the most inspiring footballer that you have met?
        I am really looking forward to meeting you at my school tomorrow and hope you will sign my books for my younger brother and I.

        1. I guess you know the answer to your question now Fionn after my visit to Sacred Heart! I hope you enjoyed the afternoon, I thoroughly enjoyed being with you. Dan

  11. I am writing an email to you using my mums email adress.
    you are coming to our class!!!
    from Griff & Teo draco class.

    1. Hello Saaleh,
      I would love to see what you have written! You can send it to Dan@danfreedman.co.uk
      Do you have any ideas for a new book? I suggest you write about something that you know about. It’s great to hear that i inspired you to write your own book!
      Dan

        1. I’m really pleased you enjoyed my visit so much! You will have to have a word to your teachers if you want me to come back.
          Dan

    1. Hello Harry,
      I was born in London, 37 years ago and have travelled to various places in the world but I have lived in London all my life. I have always loved football and went to my first game when I was 3. I started writing and had my first letter published when I was 13.
      After I left university, I was offered a job at The Football Association which was my dream job. That gave me the opportunity to travel to two World Cup finals and mix with some football greats.
      I left the FA in 2007 to concentrate on writing and now visit schools to deliver talks and write full time.

  12. Hi Dan! I am a really big fan. my English teacher gave the class a homework to write a review on your visit but im really not sure what to write. can you help?

    1. Hello Amelia.
      I would suggest that you write about how you prepared for my visit and your expectations, what you enjoyed about it and also what you learned from it. You could also include any parts of the visit that inspired you. Let me know how you get on!

  13. That’s good to hear Xander. How is the search going? There’s lots of information about me on this site but let me know if you have any questions.

  14. Hello Dan,

    We are very excited that you are going to be visiting our school, Wexham Court Primary, on Thursday this week. We hope you enjoy your visit and feel welcome.

    Class 6VB

    1. I’m looking forward to it as well! I love visiting schools and it’s great to hear that you are looking forward to it as well.

    1. Hello Ethan,
      I wanted to find a character that people could relate to and as football is one of my favourite things, it made sense to make Jamie a young aspiring football player. Once I had the main character, ideas built from there. It was about thinking of who else would be involved in his story and what could happen in his life along the way.

  15. Im Jess
    HI Dan i know it might be a long time i havernt told my headmistress tthis or any1 else, but we are sopposed to writting about our fav ourite authors, i absoloutly love your books, ive read all the Jamie Johnson series xx

  16. Im writing about my favorite author and i chose you
    Can ur have help
    Describe what type of a person you are
    Do you have family
    Where do you write

    And any other ino which can be helpful
    thx

    1. Hello Jess,
      That’s an interesting question! It’s really quite hard to describe what type of person I am. I think I would say I’m passionate about sport and writing.
      I don’t have any children yet but I hope to one day and I usually write at home. If you have any more questions just ask! Have a look at this page as it has a bit more information about me.
      http://www.danfreedman.co.uk/about-dan/

  17. Hi Dan, it’s me Jess again. Because I am going on Got what it takes, it might not work out so I was wondering if for your next series on TV could I be a new girl in town who sings and is friends with JJ (Jamie Johnson) if not don’t worry. Could you message me back on my email
    Thx

  18. Hi Dan,
    My name is Jacob and I am 14 years old from Norway. I am writing a task at school about you. I have a few questions for you that I hope you can help me with:
    Where are you born? Where do you live today? How old are you? Have you ever been to Norway? Do you know any football teams in Norway? Do you know any Norwegian fotball players?

    thank you!

    1. Hi Jacob,
      Here are the answers to the questions you asked.

      Where were you born?
      London

      Where do you live today?
      London

      How old are you?
      38

      Have you ever been
      to Norway?
      No. I have been to Finland, Denmark and Sweden but Norway yet so I’m extremely keen to come!

      Do you know any football teams in Norway?
      Yes. Lots. The team I know most is Rosenborg. I remember very well when Steffen Iversen came to play in England and how well Rosenborg were doing at the time in the Champions League.

      Do you know any Norwegian
      football players?
      Lots. Solskjaer, Iversen, Johnson, Carew, Leonhardsen to name but a few! I think Norway have produced some brilliant players and I’m very proud that you are reading the JJ books over there!

      Thank you!

  19. So hyped for Jamie Johnson on CBBC! Official release date 13 June 2016!!! The Hype is big! The hype is real!!!!! I just got to watch this!!!

  20. Hi Dan
    I read your books and loved them!
    I’m currently doing a school project about you and I would like to ask a question,
    How did you come up with the characters personality’s?
    Thanks.

  21. Hi Dan
    I read your books and loved them!
    I’m currently doing a school project about you and I would like to ask a question,
    How did you come up with the characters personality’s?
    Thanks

    1. Hi George,
      The characters are based on people I have known over the years. Some of them are a mix of a few people. I think it’s the best way to make them believable.

  22. hi,
    i love your books. i am a big massive fan. i have always wanted to meet you. i watch jamie johnson everyday.

    1. Hi there.
      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased you like the books. I visit schools to talk to the students so perhaps you should ask your teachers!

  23. Hi Dan I’m writing this with my mams email I just wanted to ask when will series 3 of Jamie Johnson on cbbc come out and also what happens in born to play ps I love your books

    1. Hi there,
      I will keep you posted on any new series! I’m really pleased you like the books! You should read ‘Born to Play’!

  24. Hey dan freedman im doing a thing about i have to read books then i write a couple of paragraphs and i chose u who i right about i love the book and i hope u can keep it up pls replay and yeah thanks for reading

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