Penalties - Stephen Leather

Penalties - Stephen Leather book cover

Premier League footballer Gabe Savage is on the way to one of the most important matches of his life when he gets a phone call from his wife.

She has been kidnapped along with their young son. And the message from her captors is brutal: ‘If your team wins, your family dies.’

With the kick-off only hours away, there is only one person Gabe can turn to – his brother Ray, a vicious London gangster. But a dark family secret means that he hasn’t spoken to Ray for years. Can Ray help? And will he?



Penalties has an unusual background. My pal Wayne Godfrey – who produced The Foreigner (based on my book The Chinaman) – got permission to film at White Hart Lane before the football stadium was demolished.

He asked several dozen writers to come up with story ideas and eventually chose one to be the movie – Final Score. He liked my story idea, as did I, so when he turned it down I wrote it as a novel. Because I had all the plot and characters worked out, it took no time at all to write, about six weeks in total.

It’s very different from my usual thrillers and the action scenes are over the top, but it’s a fast-paced read and I had a lot of fun writing it. There is also a guest appearance from Den Donovan – Tango One!