Soccer Hero


By Matt Christopher

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With a fresh new look, this reissue of Matt Christopher's this beloved sports classic tells the story of an ordinary boy who loves his friends and teammates—and suddenly becomes a hero after a single afternoon turns his life upside down. 

​Rob Lasher is just an ordinary soccer player, good at the game, but not great. Then one afternoon, he saves his coach's life in front of all his teammates. Suddenly, he's the team's hero. As some members of his team and the rest of the town continue to laud Rob's heroic act, Rob realizes he doesn't want the attention and any unearned accolades that come with it. Kids will learn that doing what is right should be the norm, not the exception.
Rob Lasher may just be an average soccer player, but there's nothing he loves more than working together with his teammates. Sure, his soccer skills aren't anything special, but that's all right with him—Rob has never minded flying under the radar. But when he saves his coach's life during one fateful afternoon practice, Rob finds himself suddenly thrust into the spotlight.
Now lauded as a hero and heralded as the savior of his team, Rob wants nothing more than for things to go back to normal. Because not everyone on the team is happy about Rob's newfound fame . . . 
This classic story from beloved author Matt Christopher is sure to win over any young sports fan, all while teaching them what it means to be a good teammate, and what it means to be a true hero.



All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

First eBook Edition: December 2009

The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Matt Christopher® is a registered trademark of Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-316-09433-7


Rob Lasher wiped the sweat from his brow and looked longingly at the jug of ice water on the bench beside the field. The sandy-haired twelve-year-old had been running drills with his soccer team, the Pirates, for more than an hour under the blazing September sun. The team's first game was in two weeks and Rob knew Coach Brennan wanted to be sure they were ready. Still, he couldn't remember ever being so hot and thirsty.

Just when Rob was sure he couldn't take it any longer, his coach let out a piercing whistle.

"Okay, men, five-minute break," Coach Brennan called. He joined the boys jogging off the field.

Rob filled his paper cup as full as he could, then stepped aside and began to sip the cool, refreshing liquid. Benji Lombardo was next to grab a cupful of water. But instead of drinking it, he dumped it on his head.

"You know, Benji," Rob said admonishingly, "you should get that into you, not onto you. I read that dehydration can cause dizziness. You don't want to collapse on the field, do you?"

Benji laughed. "I'll take my chances," he said.

Still laughing, he turned for a refill. Then suddenly, he staggered, dropped his cup, and grabbed the bench with one hand.

"I knew it!" Rob cried. "Benji, are you okay? Put your head between your knees so you don't black out!"

Benji opened one eye and grinned up at Rob. "Gotcha!"

Rob took a step back and grimaced. "Ha, ha, very funny. You know, Benji —"

"You know what I know, Rob?" Benji interrupted. "I know that if you say 'you know, Benji' one more time today, I'm going to hydrate your body with that entire jug of water!"

By now the whole team was laughing. Even Coach Brennan, a no-nonsense man with powerful arms, a trim waist, and strong legs, smiled.

"Hey, coach, want some water?" one of the players called. "You look like you've been running a marathon!"

Coach Brennan drew his hand across his forehead and stared at his sweaty palm in surprise. "I must be moving around out there more than I thought," he commented. "And you must be right about dehydration and dizziness, Rob. I'm feeling a little lightheaded!"

He started to reach for a cup but stopped abruptly and grabbed his left arm at the bicep.

"Oof!" He straightened and rotated his shoulder. "Guess I didn't stretch out enough today. I think I just pulled a muscle!"

Most of the boys laughed at the thought of such a simple movement as reaching for a cup causing pain. Rob did, too, until he noticed that the coach was still wincing and rubbing his shoulder.

"You know, coach, it could be a pinched nerve in your neck or your back," Rob said. "I read somewhere that pain can be felt far from where the actual damage is."

"Mmmm." The coach sounded distracted. "Okay, boys, break's over. Back to the field for one more drill before we call it quits for today."

The team gave a collective groan.

"C'mon, I'll play, too," Coach Brennan added. "Maybe moving around will unkink my pinched nerve, or pulled muscle, or whatever this ache is!"

That stopped the grumbling. Many of the boys had been on Coach Brennan's soccer team for at least two years. They knew having the coach take part in drills made it more fun.

"Bryan, Ming, and Scott, you three will be defense," the coach said. "The rest of you, form two lines on either side of the center circle."

The defense took up fullback positions in front of the goal while the others lined up as instructed. Meanwhile, Coach Brennan arranged orange cones in two lines leading up to the penalty box.

"The offense is going to work on dribbling, dodging, and shooting," he said. "You'll take off two at a time, slalom through the cones, work past the defense, and then blast a kick into the net. The defense will work on double-teaming and on straight-on attacks. It'll be up to them to decide which of the two players coming toward them to double up against."

The coach jogged to the front of one of the lines and glanced at the boy at the front of the other. "Dmitri and I will go first, show you how it's done. After we shoot, the next two in line start the drill. Everyone ready? Then let's go!"

Dmitri, a tall thirteen-year-old with thick black hair, took off like an arrow released from a bow, toeing the ball expertly in and around the cones and having no trouble matching the coach's speed and finesse.

"Go, Dmitri!" shouted a young boy named Kirk. Kirk was new to the team. From the day he started practicing with the Pirates, he'd followed Dmitri around like a faithful dog. It was obvious he thought Dmitri was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Not that Dmitri didn't deserve some admiration. He was the best player they had, a shoo-in for the position of starting center forward. For that reason alone, he'd probably be elected this year's team captain, too.

The coach made it through his cones a split second before Dmitri. Bryan and Ming raced forward to double-team him. While Coach Brennan dodged this way and that to avoid their attack, Dmitri beat Scott in a one-on-one match and booted the ball into the net.

"Whoo-hoo! Did you see that? That was some precision kicking, D-man!" Kirk held up his hand to high-five Dmitri. Dmitri gave him a light slap and then dropped the ball at his feet so he could take his turn.


On Sale
Mar 2, 2021
Page Count
96 pages

Matt Christopher

About the Author

Matt Christopher is the best-selling name behind more than 100 sports-themed books for young readers.

Learn more about this author