Understanding a Hat Trick in Soccer: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)

Ever wondered about the term ‘hat trick’ in the world of soccer? This strange phrase is really important in soccer. It can completely change a game and make a player famous in soccer history. It all starts with one player scoring three goals in a single game. But it’s not just about numbers; it’s part of soccer culture. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of the hat trick. We’ll learn where it came from, how it happens, and look at some famous hat tricks in soccer history. We’ll also check out some interesting stats and records and see what it means to soccer fans all around the world.

Origins of a Hat Trick

Origins of a Hat Trick: A glance into history

The term “hat trick” is widely utilized in the world of sports, but its roots stretch far back, beyond the grassy courts of soccer or football as it is known in many parts of the world. The phrase initially emerged from the sport of cricket in the mid-19th century in England. When a bowler in cricket used to get three batsmen out in a row with their deliveries, their club would give them a new hat. This was a big deal back then, and it’s how the term ‘hat trick’ came to be.

Adoption into Soccer

The concept of a hat trick seamlessly made its transition to soccer given the British origins and influence on both sports. Much like its origin, a hat trick in soccer refers to one player scoring three goals in a single game. The goals, however, do not necessarily need to be successive and can be interspersed throughout the game. The term first appeared in print relating to soccer in 1878 when a player named John McDougall scored three goals for England against Scotland.

Evolution over Time

Over time, the usage and meaning of ‘hat trick’ have evolved and varied across different sports. In hockey, a hat trick refers to a player scoring three goals in a game, similar to soccer. But in sports like rugby, a hat trick can signify three tries or touchdowns by a single player. The details can vary, but what they all have in common is one player achieving something significant three times in one game or match.

Why ‘Hat Trick’ in Soccer?

The terminology of ‘hat trick’ has been a subject of intrigue and discussion in soccer circles. The general consensus is that the term stuck because it’s catchy and has an air of celebration around it. When a player scores a hat trick in soccer, it is a significant accomplishment that warrants recognition and celebration. Raising your hat to applaud a job well done fits perfectly with celebrating three goals in a soccer match.

An Introduction to the Hat Trick in Soccer

You may have heard of the term ‘hat trick’ brought up during soccer matches. Essentially, a hat trick occurs when a player succeeds in scoring three goals within a single match. This term isn’t restricted to soccer; it has roots in cricket and is used across various sports, but it’s exceptionally popular in soccer globally. There are variations to this achievement as well, such as ‘perfect’ or ‘classic’ hat tricks.

Understanding a Hat Trick in Soccer: A Comprehensive Guide (1)

Scoring a Hat Trick

The Variations of a Hat Trick

In soccer, there are various types of hat tricks.

One type is the ‘perfect’ hat trick, achieved when a player scores three goals using their right foot, left foot, and head, all in the same game. Another type is the ‘classic’ hat trick, where a player scores three goals consecutively in a single match. However, the most widely recognized hat trick is when a player scores three goals in one game, regardless of the order or methods used.

Rules and Regulations

Players can score these goals at any time during the match, including extra time. However, it’s important to remember that penalty shootouts don’t count. Additionally, the three goals don’t have to be consecutive or without an opponent scoring in between. However, if a game goes into extra time (such as during knockout stages in tournaments), any goals scored during this period can also count towards a hat trick.


A player scoring a hat trick can achieve it by any combination of Goal types: Open play, Free-kick, Penalty, or a Goal from Corner (also known as a header). It only matters that the same player successfully sends the ball into the net three times in the same match.

Types of Hat Tricks

There are also variations of a hat trick in soccer.

In soccer, there’s something called a “flawless” or “perfect” hat trick. This happens when a player scores with their right foot, left foot, and head all in the same match.

There’s another impressive feat called a “super hat trick” or “haul,” where a player scores four times in one game.

Circ*mstances For Awarding a Hat Trick

To officially call a player’s three goals a hat trick, they must score all three in a single match. It can happen during regular play, added time due to stoppages, or even extra time in a knockout game.

If a player scores two goals in regular play and one in a penalty shootout, it doesn’t count as a hat trick.

The official recognition of a hat trick might vary from one competition to another, but the main idea remains the same.

Getting a hat trick is a big deal for any soccer player. They often get the match ball as a trophy in honor of this achievement.

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Notable Hat Tricks in Soccer History

Exploring the Concept of a Hat Trick in Soccer

Understanding the idea of a hat trick in soccer is fundamental to appreciating the game’s intricacies. It’s when a solitary player scores three goals within a single game, excluding contributions in penalty shootouts but allowing those in overtime. Achieving a hat trick is a remarkable accomplishment, requiring a high level of skill and precision to navigate the ball past professional defenses three times in a match. This accomplishment is usually celebrated, highlighting the player’s exceptional contribution to the match result.

Notable Hat Tricks

One of the most memorable hat tricks in soccer history was delivered by Geoff Hurst in the 1966 World Cup final. Hurst, who was playing for England, scored three times against West Germany. His hat trick remains unique until this day as it’s the only hat trick in a World Cup final match.

In 2014, Lionel Messi achieved an impressive hat trick during a Barcelona vs. Real Madrid game in La Liga. What made it even more special was that he was the first player to score a hat trick in a match between these rivals since 1994.

Pelé, one of soccer’s greatest, deserves a mention. He scored four hat tricks in World Cup tournaments. His first one happened when he was just 17 years old, playing against France in 1958.

Cristiano Ronaldo, another soccer legend, has quite a few unforgettable hat tricks in his career. He played for Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, and now Manchester United again. One of his standout moments was during the 2018 World Cup when he scored three goals for Portugal against Spain to help his team stay in the game.

Another unforgettable hat trick was scored by Denmark’s Preben Elkjaer against the USSR in the 1986 World Cup. Elkjaer’s hat trick is unanimously considered one of the best in World Cup history. It’s most notable for how distinct each goal was: one was a poacher’s finish, another a long-range strike, and the last one a solo run past four defenders.

The Significance of a Hat Trick in Soccer History and Matches

Similarly, Lionel Messi’s hat trick against Real Madrid played a vital role in Barcelona’s crucial victory, a fierce sports rivalry.

Hat tricks often change important games, leaving a mark on both match outcomes and players’ careers. They signify exceptional talent and rare skill in soccer.

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Hat Tricks Statistics and Records

What Exactly is a Hat Trick in Soccer?

In soccer, a ‘hat trick’ indicates an event where a single player scores three goals in one match. Although first used in cricket, the term now strongly connects to soccer and many other sports. Scoring a hat trick is a big achievement in any soccer match, whether local or international. It’s crucial to note that these three goals must happen during regular or extra time, not in penalty shootouts.

The Frequency of Hat Tricks

As expected, hat tricks are rare. Scoring three goals in one game is tough, even for top players. When we examine data from the English Premier League, one of the world’s top football leagues, we notice only a few hat tricks each season. In the 2019/2020 season, out of 380 games, there were just 34 hat tricks. That’s roughly one hat trick every 11 matches.

Records: Christine Sinclair and Lionel Messi’s Superiority

On the international level, players like Christine Sinclair from Canada’s women’s team and Lionel Messi from Argentina’s men’s team shine with their hat trick achievements. Sinclair notched an incredible 16 hat tricks for her team. While Messi holds the record for the most hat tricks in men’s international matches. He holds an impressive 6 hat tricks for his country.

Patterns and Trends: More than Just Scoring

Interestingly, the occurrence of a soccer hat trick also points towards other emphases in match dynamics. For example, Messi’s 36 career hat tricks for Barcelona reveal a trend—he tends to score the third goal in the second half, suggesting strong physical and mental resilience even as the matches wear on. Additionally, forwards score most hat tricks, emphasizing the crucial attacking skills of this position.

Men vs. Women: Hat Trick Occurrences

In the context of gender, data show that hat tricks are more common in women’s soccer than in men’s leagues. During the 2019 Women’s World Cup, there were significantly more hat tricks scored than the men’s tournament in 2018. This difference may reflect different levels of competitiveness or playing style in the male and female games.

The Rarity of Perfect Hat Tricks

Within the hat trick achievement, there’s a unique and even more remarkable feat — the perfect hat trick, one goal scored with the right foot, one with the left, and one with the head. In the English Premier League, there have been just a few perfect hat tricks thus far, the first one by Gordon Hodgson in 1922 and the last one by Christian Pulisic in 2019.

The concept of a hat trick in soccer can bring an additional layer of intrigue to the game. Whether one marvels at the rarity of achieving a hat trick, appreciates the dominance of certain players capable of such a feat, or uses the concept to identify broader strategic patterns, understanding hat tricks can certainly enrich one’s outlook on the globally beloved game of soccer.

Hat Trick and its Impact on Soccer Culture

The Tradition of a Hat Trick

In soccer, a player is said to achieve a hat trick when they score three goals within a single game. This milestone only considers goals scored in regular play, not penalty shootouts. The tradition began in cricket in the mid-1800s, where a bowler getting three consecutive wickets got a new hat as a reward. This idea of a hat trick has spread to other sports like soccer and hockey, making player achievements more interesting.

Celebrating a Hat Trick

When a player achieves a hat trick, it is a major cause for celebration within the game. Fans may throw hats onto the field, a tradition borrowed from hockey, to honor the player’s accomplishment. Players meanwhile, are often lauded by their teammates, coaches, and even opponents. It is a sign of an extraordinary game, indicating that a player has been instrumental in significantly influencing the game’s outcome.

Impact on a Player’s Career

Achieving a hat trick is a significant milestone in a player’s career and can significantly enhance their professional profile. It demonstrates a player’s offensive prowess and nets high scores for their club. This accomplishment often leads to increased recognition and potentially larger contracts or transfer values. Some of the best players in history, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Pele, have scored multiple hat tricks during their prestigious careers.

Cultural Significance in the Soccer Community

Hat tricks hold a lofty status in soccer, reflecting a blend of skill, determination, and a bit of luck. Among fans, the thrill of witnessing a hat trick is unparalleled. Soccer commentators often employ the term in excited tones, elevating the dramatic tension of a match. Games that feature a hat trick are often remembered and discussed for years afterwards.

Hat Tricks in Major Soccer Tournaments

In major tournaments like the World Cup, hat tricks become a part of the sport’s rich history. Notable instances, like Geoff Hurst’s hat trick for England in the 1966 World Cup final, are milestones in soccer lore. Few achievements in soccer are as celebrated or remembered as fondly as a hat trick in a crucial match.

Overall, the notion of a hat trick in soccer transcends the mere tallying up of goals. It carries the weight of history, prestige, and honor, punctuating a player’s career with a moment of high distinction and shaping the cultural narrative of the sport in the process.

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With a long history, a clear scoring process, memorable moments, and a deep influence on soccer’s culture, a hat trick is more than just a statistic. It’s a testimony to an individual’s prowess and ability to single-handedly change the trajectory of the game. The gravity of the feat is magnified by various factors – the platform, the opposition, and the circ*mstances, among others. As we’ve seen, these hat trick heroes make soccer exciting and unpredictable. Hat tricks vary, but their spectacle and importance add to the charm of the game.


Understanding a Hat Trick in Soccer: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)


Why are 3 scores called a hat-trick? ›

A player gets a hat-trick when they score three goals in one game, but the use of the term actually didn't start on the football pitch. The phrase came from cricket, and was used when a bowler took three wickets from three consecutive balls. The club would give the bowler a hat to celebrate this achievement.

Has there ever been 2 hat tricks in 1 game soccer? ›

In 2007, Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz and Wigan's Marcus Bent both scored hat-tricks in a match that Wigan won 5–3.

What is 4 goals in soccer called? ›

A 'brace' and a 'hat-trick' are the most commonly used phrases to describe a player scoring multiple goals. However, less-used and less official terms also exist the more goals a player nets. Four goals scored by a single player in a match can be described as a 'haul', while five goals is unofficially a 'glut'.

What are 7 goals in soccer called? ›

For reference: 2 = brace, 3 = hat-trick, 4 = haul, 5 = glut, 6 = double hat-trick, 7 = haul-trick.

Do you get your hat back after a hat-trick? ›

Some teams, like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, and Washington Capitals, keep the hats and put them on display in a bin or case in their arena. A couple of teams give the hats to the player who scored the hat trick. The Calgary Flames apparently just toss the hats in the garbage.

What is the fastest hat-trick in soccer history? ›

Players who scored the fastest hat-tricks in history

Magnus Arvidsson completed a hat-trick in 89 seconds in a match in the Swedish fourth tier and beat Tommy Ross' 1964 record for just one second.

Do you keep the ball if you score a hat-trick? ›

When a player scores two tries, this is often referred to as a brace. As with association football, it is common to award the match ball to a player who scores a hat-trick. Ken Irvine and Frank Burge both scored 16 hat-tricks in Australian first grade rugby league.

Which player has 3 hat-tricks? ›

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra has recorded three IPL hat-tricks, the most by any bowler. He took his first hat-trick for Delhi Daredevils in 2008 against Deccan Chargers.

What is a super hattrick? ›

A super hat trick in soccer is when a player achieves four goals in a single soccer game. Like a traditional hat trick, these goals do not need to be achieved sequentially, but goals made during a penalty shootout are not counted. It is counted if the goal comes from a penalty kick or is made during extra time.

What is Rule 4 in soccer? ›

Rule 4 – Throw-Ins

To have a proper throw-in, the player must plant both feet on the ground and uses both hands to throw the ball back into play. Both hands must come behind the head of the player and the player cannot cross the sideline. Their feet must remain outside the line of play.

What is 5 goals in soccer called? ›

The term used for five goals is “glut” and six goals are termed a “double hat trick”.

How many hattricks does Messi have? ›

Lionel Messi has scored 57 hat-tricks in his career for Barcelona and Argentina.

How many hattricks does Ronaldo have? ›

How many hat-tricks has Ronaldo scored? How often does he score one? The former Real Madrid star has now scored an incredible 65 hat-tricks in his career, which include 55 at club level and 10 for Portugal. That works out at an average of one hat-trick every 18.7 matches over 22 years.

What is a super hat-trick? ›

Four goals in football is a “super hat trick.” What is an example of a hat trick in football? A hat trick could be any player scoring three times in a match. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo often do this.

What are 6 goals in soccer called? ›

A double hat trick in soccer is precisely what its name seems to imply, i.e., six goals scored by a single player in a single game. [5] However, it's a rare occurrence in soccer, and it is almost impossible to witness a double hat trick in any modern competitive league.

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