This story is about a football-obsessed 11-year-old called Budi, who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia. Budi’s lives in poverty with his parents and his grandmother, and because they need his income to survive, he has to work long hours at a factory instead of going to school. The factory makes football boots for top-level players, and Budi dreams about becoming a superstar footballer such as his idol, Kevin Wakefield, who plays for Real Madrid. Budi has a friend called Rochy who is a bit older. They look out for each other at work, and in their spare time play football with two other friends, or watch Real Madrid late at night on Rochy’s television.
Budi has a lot to endure. The work at the factory is difficult, and he is beaten by the foreman with a cane when he is slow, or makes a mistake. He has to be careful, as he has an illness (haemophilia?) which makes it difficult to stop cuts from continuously bleeding. But he tries to keep positive, even in the face of all his troubles.
A significant element of the book is the undercurrent of fear; from the repressive government regime, from corrupt local officials, and the criminal underworld. Budi unintentionally upsets a local big-wig landlord known as The Dragon, who blackmails him and his uncle, putting them under pressure to break the law, or face dire consequences for the rest of the family.
This is a gripping story which piles on the pressure for the main character, Budi. But he is optimistic, loyal and courageous, holding on to his friendship with Rochy and his love of football, which help him survive through all his troubles and difficulties.