what is a hat trick

Hat-trick in Soccer: What you need to know?

To a native Englishman, a Hat-trick in Football or Soccer as it is known in the U.S is something you learn an entirety about from a very early age – about the age of 6 in the school playground! In some countries that are newer to Soccer or for people who just want to know a bit more about its origins, it may not be so clear. Hence, I have put this guide together to hopefully ensure you can fully understand it and why it’s such a recognized achievement in the game.

Ok so let’s start with:

What is a Hat-trick in Soccer?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition for a hat-trick in soccer is

“an occasion when a player scores three times in the same gameespecially in soccer

In order to qualify as a Hat-trick, 3 basic criteria apply

  • One player must score all three (or more) goals in the game.
  • These three goals do not have to be scored consecutively, other goals can be scored in-between.
  • Any player on the pitch may score a Hat-trick at any point of the game – apart from when a penalty shoot-out occurs and any goals scored there do not qualify.  

The definition and rules of a basic hat-trick is therefore pretty simple, though the term Hat-trick may appear a bit bizarre. So let’s take a look at how it came to be referred to as a Hat-trick.

Soccer Hat-trick Origins:

According to various sources a Hat-trick didn’t originate in Soccer. The term “Hat- trick” is actually derived from a cricket match in 1858 when Bowler H.H. Stephenson, playing for England versus a team from Hallam, South Yorkshire, took three consecutive wickets at the Hyde Park Cricket Grounds in Sheffield. This means he hit the wooden stakes (wickets) behind the batter on 3 consecutive occasions. This was then adopted by Soccer to pay recognition to any player that scored 3 goals in a match. Though unlike in Cricket, the goals did not need to happen consecutively.

Hat-trick Soccer More Information

As you have read earlier, just 3 basic factors constitute what a Hat-trick consists of but there is a bit more to it. The following will help elaborate on the basic rules and answer some of the questions you may have about Hat-tricks. For instance:

  • A Hat Trick is a Hat Trick whether the goals are scored consecutively one after the other or not. Also, should another player or players score a goal or goals in between the individual players 3 goals, this does not make a difference.
  • How long it takes to score the three goals by the player also does not matter. A Hat-trick can be scored as quickly as it is possible to do so. Whether that is under 5 minutes or any time within the normal 90 minutes of a standard match and its ‘extra time’ minutes. Or even in Cup matches or International matches which can last a 120 minutes or there ‘extra time’ minutes: 3 goals scored in such a time all qualify as a Hat-trick.
  • Note, however, in any matches that end in a ‘penalty shootout’ goals scored there do not qualify. So if a player scores two goals within 90 or 120 minutes for example and then 1 in the shootout, this does not qualify as a Hat-trick.
  • It does not matter how the player scores the goals for his Hat Trick, a player can score his Hat-trick with literally any part of his body (apart from his hand or arm) and indeed three times with that body part or a mixture to qualify.

A good example here would be provided by the famous Everton player, Duncan Ferguson, who was renowned for scoring a hat-trick of headers! Given he was 6 foot 5inches, “Big Dunc” as he was known had a bit of an advantage here!

A Hat-trick In Short!

So to sum up all that matters (bar the exceptions noted) for a player to qualify as scoring a Hat-trick in a match, is that he scores three goals in one game and within the rules of the game. 

The Purists’ Perfect Hat-Trick!

For Soccer purists – the perfect Hat-trick occurs when a player scores one goal with his right foot, one goal with his left foot and one goal with his head.

A perfect Hat-trick is considered notable and a notch above a basic Hat-trick, for the player who scores it has shown his all-round ability as a soccer player to score goals. 

(Suggest you tube video here of a famous perfect Hat-trick)

Is There a Prize for a Hat-Trick?

No official prize is awarded to a player for scoring a Hat-trick of any kind. Nevertheless, it is accepted tradition for the player who has scored the Hat-trick to keep the Soccer ball used in that game as a souvenir – often being signed by all his team-mates. Indeed, if it is an exceptional Hat-trick (such as in the video below), his team mates or even the referee will often grab the ball and present it to him afterwards in honor of its class.   

Here is one by Matthew Le Tisser of Southampton

Who Has Scored the Fastest Hat-Tricks in Soccer

Soccer Hat-tricks are a great feat attained by the Soccer player that score’s them and also a great treat for the Soccer fans who watch them. But do you know who has scored the fastest Hat-trick in Soccer history and moreover who has scored the most Hat-tricks in Soccer history?

Fastest Hat-tricks in Soccer

According to the Guinness Book of World Records the fastest hat-trick ever scored was by Tommy Ross in 1964, who scored a Hat-trick in an unbelievable 90 seconds!

In the modern era, Sadio Mané is often credited as scoring the fastest top level professional Hat-trick by scoring all 3 goals within 2 minutes and 56 seconds! Take a look!

The Most Hat-Tricks in Soccer History

The legendary Pele of Santos and Brazil is the player who has scored the most Hat-tricks in World Soccer. Despite retiring in 1977, Pele with an incredible 92 Hat-tricks comfortably eclipses the two legends of the modern game. 

  • Christian Ronaldo – 57 Hat-tricks currently throughout his career
  • Lionel Messi – 54 Hat-tricks currently throughout his career

Who However Scored The Greatest Hat-Trick in Soccer History?

There have been some great Hat-tricks in the World of Soccer, but can this one, by Rivaldo of FC Barcelona in 2001 ever be topped? 

Note here, Rivaldo’s Hat-trick is all the more remarkable as his final spectacular overhead 20 yard ‘bicycle’ kick was scored in the final minute of normal time and secured Barcelona qualification to that years Champions League over the team they were competing with for it – Valencia.

Thereby, perhaps qualifying it as the best overall Hat-Trick in Soccer history. If you’ve watched the video you’ll see why!