What is a Hat-Trick in Soccer?

There are a few ways in which a soccer player can impress crowds with their skills and set themselves apart from the average standard of players, and one of the most surefire methods for a player to solidify this status in the soccer world is to score a hat-trick.

Scoring a hat-trick in soccer is seen as a badge of honour for both professional and amateur players, but if you’re unfamiliar with the term, you might be wondering what a hat-trick actually is and why it is regarded as such an achievement. 

What is a hat-trick?

To put it simply, a player gets a hat-trick in soccer by scoring 3 goals in one game. The goals must take place in the same game, however, they don’t need to be scored one after the other, or in the same manner as each other. 

What does a player have to do to get a hat-trick?

When a player has scored 2 goals this is known as a ‘brace’, and this player is then usually referred to as “on a hat trick” since it will only take them one more goal to achieve the hat-trick status.

The conditions that make up a hat-trick are as follows:

  1. A total of 3 goals has to be scored
  2. The goals must be scored by the same player
  3. The goals all have to be scored within one game

As long as these conditions are met, a player gets a hat-trick. This is regardless of any other factors to do with the goals or how they were scored, and it also doesn’t matter whether the goals were scored during normal time or extra time. 

What is a ‘natural hat-trick’?

While it isn’t essential to score all 3 goals consecutively to earn a regular hat-trick, players that manage to score 3 times in a row are said to have achieved a ‘natural’ or ‘flawless’ hat-trick. 

For a natural hat-trick, the goals must be scored by one player in one match, without being interrupted by goals from other players on their team or anyone on the opposing team.

What is a ‘perfect hat-trick’?

Both regular hat-tricks and flawless hat-tricks are already challenging feats and rarities for even the most experienced players, but the ones looking to take it to the next level can attempt what’s known as a ‘perfect’ or ‘golden’ hat-trick. 

To achieve perfect hat-trick status, the player’s hat-trick must be made up of one goal scored with the left foot, one goal with the right foot, and one goal scored by a header. Because of the challenging criteria, this is the rarest and most enviable type of hat-trick for a soccer player to pull off.

Do players get an award for hat-tricks?

There is no official prize or award for getting a hat-trick. However, it has become a tradition that if a player scores a hat-trick in a soccer match, they get to keep the ball used in that match as a memento of their achievement.

Where does the term hat-trick come from?

Even though it’s now used across several different sports, the term ‘hat-trick’ has become so heavily associated with soccer that it would be easy to assume this is the sport from which the name originates.

However, this assumption would be wrong – in actuality, the term hat-trick was originally coined in a game of cricket in 1858. 

How was the term hat-trick first coined?

Understanding the basics of cricket is key to understanding how the phrase first came about, and why a hat-trick is so highly revered across different sports. 

In a cricket game, the field is set up with 3 wooden stakes that support 2 smaller pieces of wood known as the ‘bails’. 2 teams take turns throwing cricket balls towards each other’s stakes, which are protected by the opposing team’s batter who defends them with a cricket bat. The goal is to hit the stakes and knock off the opposing teams’ bails, and if a player is successful in doing so, the batter from the opposite team who was defending the stakes is sent off and replaced with another player from that team. 

Knowing the basics of how a cricket game works, you can understand how rare it would be for a player to manage to hit the stakes and send off the batter 3 times in a row. So, you can also understand the reaction people had when it was achieved for the very first time in 1858 by an English man named Heathman Harman Stephenson (H.H. Stephenson). 

Heathman Harman Stephenson made history being the first person to ever pull off such a feat. It was customary at the time for achievements like these to be honoured with a collection, so the spectators pooled their money together. With the proceedings, they bought H.H. Stephenson a new hat, and the term ‘hat-trick’ was born. 

Over time, the term hat-trick started being used in other sports in the case that 3 of something had been achieved, such as 3 goals or 3 points. The term was quickly picked up by the players and spectators of soccer in the case that 3 goals were scored by one individual, and so hat-tricks have become synonymous with soccer ever since. 

Hat-Trick Record Holders

Since H.H. Stephenson set the first ever hat-trick record in the landmark 1858 cricket game, many players have since earned elite status in their sporting careers by scoring record-breaking hat-tricks of their own.

Who scored the first hat-trick in soccer?

Bert Patenaude – 1930 FIFA World Cup

The first player to score a hat-trick in the FIFA World Cup was Bert Patenaude, playing for the USA vs Paraguay in 1930. Who has scored the most hat-tricks in soccer?

Pele – 92 hat-tricks
In the world of soccer, Pele is regarded by many as the greatest player of all time. He holds the Guinness World Record for scoring the most hat-tricks over the course of his career at an undefeated total of 92 hat-tricks. He also holds the world record for being the youngest player in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup, having achieved this at just 17 years old.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 57 hat-tricks
Cristiano Ronaldo is also a member of the soccer elite class, scoring 57 hat-tricks throughout his professional career. It’s a further honourable mention that on eight occasions, Ronaldo has managed to score 4 goals in a single game, and on two other occasions, 5 goals. 

Lionel Messi – 54 hat-tricks
Lionel Messi comes in third with just slightly less goals than Ronaldo, having scored 54 hat-tricks in his career so far. On 5 occasions, he has managed to score 4 goals in a single game, and on one occasion, he has scored 5 goals.

Who scored the fastest hat-trick in Premier League soccer?

Sadio Mane – 2 minutes 56 seconds
Sadio Mane was in his first season of English Football in 2014, and playing for Southampton, he helped his team win against Aston Villa 6-1 by scoring 3 goals in an unbelievable 2 minutes 56 seconds. This is the fastest hat-trick ever known in the Premier League, and is yet to be beaten.

What is the most famous hat-trick ever scored in soccer?

Geoff Hurst – 1966 FIFA World Cup Final

One of the most highly regarded hat-tricks in Premier League history was that of Geoff Hurst, playing for England in the 1966 World Cup final. Not only did his hat-trick help England achieve their first and only World Cup win, it was also a ‘perfect’ hat-trick, further solidifying Hurst’s place in soccer history.