What Is a Hat Trick in Soccer?

What Is the Meaning of a Hat Trick?

Have you ever heard of a hat trick in soccer, but not sure what it means? It's actually very simple. A hat trick in soccer is when a player scores three goals in a single game. Any goals that are scored within the normal regulation time (90 minutes), or in extra time, can be counted towards a hat trick. That means that any goals that are scored via open play, free-kicks, and penalties are all counted, however, any goals scored in a penalty shootout are not counted.

What Is a Perfect Hat Trick in Soccer?

A 'perfect hat trick' is used to describe a player that scores three goals in a single game, but in a very specific way. One goal must be scored with the player's right foot. Another goal must be scored with the left foot, and the final goal must be scored with a header.

Perfect hat trick in
A perfect hat trick involves scoring one goal with the right foot, one goal with the left foot and one goal with the head.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored nine perfect hat tricks during his career, which is a record. Surprisingly, Lionel Messi has not scored a single perfect hat trick during his career, presumably because he is so good at scoring with his feet but not so much with his head. However, Messi has scored a hat trick of goals with his weaker foot, which is an accomplishment that Ronaldo cannot claim.

What Is a Natural Hat Trick?

A natural hat trick is used to describe a player scoring three consecutive goals in a single game, with no other player scoring any goals in between.

Who Has the Most Hat Tricks in Soccer?

The answer to who holds the record for most career hat tricks is contentious. The Guinness World Records once claimed Pelé has the most hat tricks in history, with 92. However, the RSSSF claims that Erwin Helmchen has the most career hat tricks, with 141. Both claims are dubious, as record keeping at the time was not as accurate as it is today. Pelé is known to include goals from unofficial friendlies and games played whilst in the military.

Most Hat Tricks in Modern History

At the time of publishing (updated February 2023), the players with the most hat tricks are:

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo - 61
  2. Lionel Messi - 56
  3. Robert Lewandowski - 30
  4. Luis Suarez - 29

Most Hat Tricks for National Teams

Cristiano Ronaldo also leads the way with the record for the most hat tricks for a national team.

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) - 10
  2. Sven Rydell (Sweden) - 9
  3. Lionel Messi (Argentina), Poul Nielsen (Denmark) - 8

The Defender With the Most Hat Tricks

It is quite rare for a defensive player to score a goal, let alone a hat trick. However, Fernando Hierro, the legendary Real Madrid defender, scored two hat tricks in his career. The first in 1991, and the second in 2002.

Fastest Hat Tricks in Soccer

The fastest-ever hat trick was scored in just 89 seconds. It was achieved by Magnus Arvidsson, whilst playing for Hassleholms IF in a Swedish fourth-tier game against Landskrona, in 1995.

Just one second behind is Tommy Ross, who scored a hat trick in 90 seconds, whilst playing for Ross County against Nairn County, in Scotland, on 28 November 1964.

The fastest hat trick in the women's game was scored in 2 minutes and 34 seconds, by Kosovare Asllani, whilst playing for Real Madrid against Valencia in 2021. This could be considered the fastest hat trick in a top-tier game.

Some other notable fast hat tricks can be seen below.

Fastest International Hat Trick

3 minutes and 15 seconds - Masashi Nakayama holds the record for the fastest hat trick in an international match. He completed the feat in an Asian Cup qualifying match on 16 February 2000.

Fastest World Cup Hat Trick

5 minutes - Fabienne Humm scored a hat trick in the women's world cup, playing for Switzerland against Ecuador in 2015.

The fastest hat trick in a men's World Cup soccer match was completed by László Kiss, playing for Hungary against El Salvador, in Spain, on 15 June 1982. The hat trick was completed in 7 minutes.

Fastest Premier League Hat Trick

2 minutes and 56 seconds - The accolade for the fastest hat trick in the Premier League belongs to Sadio Mané, who managed to score three goals playing for Southampton against Aston Villa on 16 May 2015.

Sadio Mané
Sadio Mané played for Southampton when he broke the record for the fastest hat trick in the Premier League.

Fastest Bundesliga Hat Trick

3 minutes and 22 seconds - The fastest hat trick in a German Bundesliga match was achieved by Robert Lewandowski in a match against Wolfsburg on 22 September 2015.

Robert Lewandowski played for Bayern Munich when he broke the record for the fastest hat trick in the Bundesliga.

Fastest La Liga Hat Trick

4 minutes and 43 seconds - Bebeto scored the fastest hat trick in La Liga history, in a match for Deportivo La Coruña, against Albacete, in 1995.

Fastest UEFA Champions League Hat Trick

6 minutes and 12 seconds - Mohamed Salah scored the fastest hat trick in the UEFA Champions League whilst playing for Liverpool against Rangers, on 12 October 2022.

Fastest MLS Hat Trick

5 minutes - The fastest hat trick in the MLS was scored by Harut Karapetyan of the LA Galaxy on June 4, 1998.

Where Did the Term Hat Trick Originate?

You may be wondering where the phrase 'hat trick' comes from, and the answer may surprise you. One theory is that the term originated from the sport of Cricket. Historically, when a bowler would take three wickets (outs), with three consecutive deliveries (pitches), they would be awarded a commemorative hat for the feat. The term would then be extended to other sports, especially soccer and hockey.

Hat Trick Traditions

It is traditional for a player to be awarded the match ball at the end of the game if they have scored a hat trick

Famous Hat Tricks

The question is sometimes asked, "What was the best hat trick in soccer history?". This is very subjective, but a few hat tricks stand out:

  1. Rivaldo vs Valencia

    On the final day of the 2000/2001 season, Barcelona hosted Valencia, with the winner taking the final Champions League qualification spot. Barcelona ended victorious in a thrilling game, with Rivaldo scoring three of the finest goals you will see, with the winner arriving in the 88th minute.

  2. Ronaldo vs Manchester Utd

    In 2003, the reigning European player of the year, Ronaldo, scored a hat trick for Real Madrid combined with an individual performance that was so impressive, that the opposition fans gave him a standing ovation when he left the field. A gesture that is almost unheard of in soccer.

  3. Luis Suarez vs Norwich

    In 2013, Luis Suarez made history by scoring three league hat tricks against the same club. He was unstoppable against Norwich and scored four incredible goals in a 5-1 win for Liverpool.

  4. Geoff Hurst vs West Germany

    In 1966 Geoff Hurst scored a hat trick in the World Cup final. To this day, he is still the only men's player to do so. If that wasn't impressive enough, it was also a perfect hat trick.


Has a goalkeeper ever scored a hat trick?

It is very rare for a goalkeeper to score a goal, let alone a hat trick, but several goalkeepers have achieved it. Ilija Pantelic was the first goalkeeper to score a hat trick, in 1963, scoring three penalties. José Luis Chilavert was a Paraguayan goalkeeper, famous for his ability to score free kicks and penalties. He scored 67 goals during his career and managed to score a hat trick of penalties in 1999.

Who has scored the most hat tricks in a single season?

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have both scored eight hat tricks in a single season, playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. Messi achieved the record in 2011/12, and Ronaldo in 2014/15. Alan Shearer scored five hat tricks for Blackburn Rovers in the 1995/96 Premier League season, finishing with a total of 31 goals.

Who has the most hat tricks in Premier League history?

Sergio Aguero has the most hat tricks in Premier League history, with 12.

What is a hat trick called in Spanish?

In Spanish, the term "La tripleta" can be used to describe a hat trick.

What is the name of 4 goals in soccer?

A player scoring four goals in soccer is called a "Haul"

What is the name of 2 goals in soccer?

A player scoring two goals in soccer is called a "Brace"