A Hat-Trick in Soccer: Everything you Need to Know

You don’t have to be a soccer fanatic to know that a hat-trick in soccer is a pretty big deal.

Scoring a hat-trick, or watching your favorite player score a hat-trick is one of the best feelings and for some players, the best moment of their career. 

But just because you have heard of a hat-trick doesn’t mean that you know what one is. Alternatively, you might know what a hat-trick is but be puzzled by the unique name given to this achievement. 

If you fit into either of these categories then you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’re telling you about absolutely everything you ever need to know about hat-tricks. So if you want to find out more about hat-tricks, keep on reading.

What is a Hat-Trick?

First things first, let’s take a look at what a hat-trick is. If you already know, and simply want to find out why it is given this name, skip onto the next section. 

In soccer, a hat-trick is a great achievement for a player and something that most strikers and attacking players will want to achieve at some point in their category.

While it is hard to achieve, the idea behind a hat-trick is very simple, all the player must do is score three goals throughout a single soccer game.

For a player to score a hat-trick, it simply has to tick three boxes: 3 goals by 1 player in 1 game. As long as you tick these three boxes, then the player has scored a hat-trick. 

Despite common misconceptions, a hat-trick does not require the three goals to be scored consecutively. Likewise, it doesn’t require the player to score the goals with a specific part of their body, or within a set amount of time (as long as it is within a single game).

Goals can be scored by different players in-between, but if a single player scores 3 goals in a single game, then they have achieved a hat-trick. 

Why is it called a Hat-Trick?

If you already knew what a hat-trick was, then the chances are that this is why you are reading this article. For a lot of people, the name ‘hat-trick’ seems like a strange thing to attach to this achievement, so let’s take a look at why a hat-trick is called a hat-trick. 

This might come as a surprise, but the reason that a hat-trick in soccer is called a ‘hat-trick’ comes from a different sport, and that sport is cricket. Back in 1858, a cricket player was awarded a hat after they managed to get 3 players out with 3 consecutive throws.

After this ground-breaking achievement, the cricketing world adopted the name ‘hat-trick’ for this achievement. A few years later, the soccer world adopted this term too and awarded it to a player that scores 3 goals in a single game. 

Cricket is one of those sports that is difficult to understand unless you actively follow it, so let’s take a quick look at why this original hat-trick was viewed as such a great achievement. 

In a cricket game, one player will throw the ball towards a set of wooden stakes aiming to knock the 2 pieces of wood that balance on the sticks off.

A player from the opposing team will stand in front of these stakes with their bat, ready to hit the ball with the cricket bat and defend the stakes. If the thrower successfully knocks the wood off of the stakes then the opposing player is out and another member of their team picks up the bat. 

This might seem quite easy, but the opposing players are usually very experienced in playing cricket, so their hit of the bat will rarely miss the ball. Due to this, it is even rarer for a player to hit the wood off of the stakes three times in a game, let alone three times consecutively. 

The term ‘hat-trick’ in soccer was not introduced by soccer executives, in fact, it actually became a popular term as players and fans began to refer to a player scoring 3 goals as a hat-trick. Over time, the term caught on and became commonly used, which is why a hat-trick is still called a ‘hat-trick’ today.

While it is much easier for a soccer player to make three goals in a game than it is for a cricket player to get three players out with three consecutive throws, soccer fans noticed this achievement and believed that it should be given a name to reward the player for their success. 

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Is there a Prize for a Hat-Trick?

As we have already mentioned, a hat-trick is an achievement. Most achievements have an award attached to them, so you might find yourself asking, ‘Is there a prize for a hat-trick?’. 

In short, the answer is no. There is no official prize given to a player that scores a hat-trick, and there is no physical prize given to the player by the soccer board for this achievement.

While a hat-trick is observed as a huge achievement, the prize of scoring one is a sense of pride that the player can enjoy. From that moment on they can go on knowing that they can score a hat-trick, and once they have done it once, the chances are that they will do it again. 

The achievement of a hat-trick does not become any less great the more times you score one. Of course, the first time will always be special, but every single time that you score a hat-trick the sense of achievement is incredible.

While there is no official prize for scoring a hat-trick, if a single player scores a hat-trick in a game then it is a tradition that that player will get to keep the ball used in that match as a reminder of their achievement.  

The Perfect Hat-Trick

You might be reading this, asking yourself, ‘is there something better than a hat-trick?’. The short answer is yes, and this achievement is known as “the perfect hat-trick”. While the normal hat-trick simply requires you to achieve 3 goals in a single game, the perfect hat-trick is a lot more precise in what you must do to make this achievement. 

While a hat-trick is an excellent achievement, the perfect hat-trick is even better. This is because a perfect hat-trick requires the player to actively think about the parts of their body they use to score the goals. 

As soccer players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands at any point in the game, apart from the Goalkeeper, of course, they only have three parts of their body with which they can score a goal. This is their left foot, their right foot, and their head. This might seem like an easy thing to do, but any soccer player will know that it is not. 

Everybody who plays soccer will have a dominant foot with which they can control the ball easily and score goals more accurately. The dominant foot works in the same way that people have a dominant hand which makes them either left or right-handed. So for a striker, ticking the box of their dominant foot is usually an easy thing to do, depending on the opposition’s defense. 

The perfect hat-trick becomes difficult as you have also have to score a goal with your weaker foot and your head. A lot of players will try and train up their weaker foot so that they will be able to use it, but successfully using it to score goals is a lot more difficult than you might expect.

Similarly, scoring a goal with your head is also difficult as it can be hard to control the ball and successfully hit it into the net. 

But a lot of the difficulty of scoring a perfect hat-trick does not come from having to use your weaker limbs, instead, it comes from mentally choosing to not use your dominant foot.

It is a player’s instinct to hit the ball with their dominant foot, so while a regular hat-trick can be scored without thinking, a perfect hat-trick requires the player to actively choose to hit it.  It is because of this extra level of difficulty that a perfect hat-trick is considered a bigger success than a regular hat-trick. 

Famous Hat-Tricks

So now that you know all about the hat-trick, why it is called the hat-trick, and also the perfect hat-trick, let’s take a look at some examples.

While a hat-trick is a big deal to the soccer player, it is even more exciting for the fans watching, which is why a lot of fans will remember the hat-tricks that they watched being scored. But some hat-tricks stand out from the rest thanks to the speed and the number of times that a player has scored one. So let’s take a look at what they are. 

According to the Guinness World Records, the fastest professional hat-trick that has ever been scored took place in 1964. This hat trick was made by Tommy Ross when he was 18 years old and playing for the Scottish team, Ross County. In a speed that has still yet to be beaten, Tommy Ross managed to score 3 goals within just 90 seconds. This speed is almost unbelievable and has yet to be beaten to this day. 

However, there are some hat-tricks that have come surprisingly close. Notably, the hat-trick that Sadio Mané scored in 2015 for the English team, Southampton, is often called one of the fastest hat-tricks in history. He achieved this hat-trick in just 2 minutes 56 seconds, so it is understandable why this achievement is so often discussed. 

But which player has scored the most hat-tricks in history? Well, if you are a big fan of soccer, you probably will already know that this achievement belongs to Pele.

Despite his retirement in 1977, Pele still stands head and shoulders above any other soccer player with a record 92 hat-tricks beneath his belt. Closely behind him stand Ronaldo and Messi who have both scored more than 50 hat-tricks while still at the height of their career. 


So if you didn’t know anything about hat-tricks before reading this guide, you definitely know now as we have told you everything that you need to know about this achievement.

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