What is a Hat Trick in Soccer? A Complete Guide to Explain this

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four balls placed onto a football field ready for a practice session

A hat trick is three goals scored by a player in a single game. It doesn’t matter if the player scores all goals with his left foot, so long as he scores the three goals in the same game.

I spent the whole day researching hat tricks and why they hold so much value. Within that time, I also watched popular hat tricks on YouTube, understanding the difficulty and precision a player needs.

Stay tuned if you want to learn:

  • Why is it Called a Hat Trick?
  • What is a Perfect Hat Trick?
  • Is it Hard to Score a Hat Trick?
  • What Do You Get If You Score A Hat Trick?
  • Do Penalties Count Towards Hat Tricks?
  • Who has the Fastest Hat Trick
  • What is the Best Hat Trick Soccer has Ever Seen?
  • Which Players have Scored the Most Hat Tricks?
  • Final Whistle

Why is it Called a Hat Trick?

In today’s game, a hat trick is widely known to be related to soccer, but where exactly did that name come from and what are the origins of it?

The name came from cricket, surprisingly. In 1858, English cricketer H.H. Stephenson took the wickets of three batsmen consecutively, which was a huge accomplishment at the time.

After this, a collection was held where people, out of respect, put money in a hat to be awarded to Stephenson.

This is where the term ‘hat’ comes from.

The trick part is that there was severe difficulty in what Stephenson did that day. It was almost like a professional magician performing a magic trick that day.

What is a Perfect Hat Trick?

A perfect hat trick is when a player scores three goals, one with their right foot, one with their left foot, and the final goal with their head. This can be done in any order and still be considered the perfect hat trick.

The most highly celebrated perfect hat trick is one of the most highly anticipated soccer games of all time. The 1966 World Cup final at Wembley Stadium saw England take on West Germany, and all the pressure was on England to take this home.

Geoff Hurst, a center forward, stood out in the game. He ended up scoring a goal with his right foot, left foot, and head, shining at the brightest stage in the world. This is widely considered the best perfect hat trick and it takes the cake by far.

Is it Hard to Score a Hat Trick?

A soccer player navigating through cones as part of a soccer drill

Yes. A hat trick is no easy feat, and it requires a lot of skill and needs a player to be in their best form.

A striker who plays a position like center forward is more likely to score a hat trick, as all they need to do is break the defense or time their runs to avoid offsides.

A midfielder, while possible, would not be scoring many hat tricks if any in their career. A defender would have an even lower chance, and it’s a rarity among defenders.

Where a team is playing is an important factor in determining whether a player can score a hat trick or not. If a team is playing at home, then the chances of scoring a hat trick are high, but if they are away, then the booing can throw a player off and affect their confidence.

What Do You Get If You Score A Hat Trick?

A player typically keeps the game ball after scoring their hat trick. It’s more of a gesture to their remarkable achievement and to have a memento.

There’s no official rule in the FIFA handbook that says that a player gets to take the match ball home, but soccer referees have allowed players to take one of the balls home.

Do Penalties Count Towards Hat Tricks?

Yes and no. If a player scores a penalty during the normal 90 minutes or extra time, then this is counted towards a hat trick.

If a game went to a penalty shootout, and a player scored their third goal in the shootout then this would not be seen as a hat trick, as this is not actual playing time but to decide the winner of a game, and all players are required to take a penalty if needed to.

A popular game played between Brazil and Argentina saw ‘fat’ Ronaldo dominate with a hat trick of penalties, besting Argentina in the 2004 World Cup qualifier.

Who has the Fastest Hat Trick

Everyone expects a player to score a hat trick spaced through the 90 minutes, scoring their final goal really late in the game. Some players with incredible skillsets have done this in extraordinarily short time.

The fastest recorded hat trick in Premier League history is held by Sadio Mane. The toughest league in the world is the Premier League, but this didn’t faze Sadio Mane, who broke down the Aston Villa defense in a mere 2 minutes and 35 seconds. 

What did this do for him? This solidified Mane as a dominant forward, and the following summer, he joined Liverpool, becoming the highest-paid African player at the time, according to Bleacher Report.

Sadio Mane scoring his hat trick within 2 minutes and 35 seconds. Video by Sky Sports. All rights are reserved to Sky Sports

What is the Best Hat Trick Soccer has Ever Seen?

A lot of people will have different opinions, but for me, it would have to go to Luis Suarez, who scored the greatest hat trick of all time. After watching the game live in 2013, I can say this is the most memorable hat trick of all time (personally).

After a mistake from a Norwich defender, Suarez saw the goalkeeper off his line, and he attempted a screamer for his first goal, which he scored, sending the fans into an absolute frenzy.

The second goal was equally impressive; after Liverpool were awarded a corner kick, his teammate kicked it into the box, but a defender was holding Suarez’s shoulder and arm, making it difficult to take advantage and score the corner. Suarez slipped the defender and scored an astonishing goal right over the goalkeeper’s head.

The final goal was the best goal out of the three. He controlled the ball with his chest, pressed forward, and kicked the ball up past the defender. He let the ball take a bounce and slotted arguably his greatest goal of all time in the bottom right corner.

He ended up scoring four goals that game, cementing this game in his legacy as one of the purest strikers the Premier League has seen. 

Suarez scoring the 3 goals and adding a fourth goal to his hat trick. Video by Sky Sports. All rights are reserved to Sky Sports

Which Players have Scored the Most Hat Tricks?

In Europe, the player with the most hat tricks is Cristiano Ronaldo. He boasts the most hat tricks with a tally of 50, scored across his time with Manchester United, Real Madrid & Juventus. 

As for Champions League hat tricks, Messi held the record until Ronaldo bagged one when he joined Juventus and they faced Atletico Madrid. The record is now tied at 8 for both stars.

Neither player can surpass the other and break the record, as Ronaldo joined Saudi Arabian team Al-Nassr and Messi joined MLS, playing for Inter Miami. Since the Champions League is for European teams, both players are unable to break the most hat tricks in the Champions League (for now).

Final Whistle

A hat trick, in simple terms, is a goal scored by a player three times in a single match.

I really hope this guide helped you and fed your mind some knowledge. Check out how long a soccer game is.

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Hi, This is Daniel's Sports Blog. I have been a Sports Fan for as long as I can remember and have grown up watching all types of sports including Basketball, Soccer, Football, Wrestling (WWE specifically), amongst many more! I have not only been watching sports but I have also been competing in a range of sports and I bring my skills and experiences to writing this blog so I can help other sports fanatics understand and appreciate the art of sports.

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