Football terms explained: Why is it called a hat-trick?

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Most football fans will understand what is meant when a player is said to have scored a hat-trick, but what are the roots of the word?

Scoring goals is the chief aim of any striker, but there is a particular satisfaction to be gained by scoring a hat-trick.

Such is the difficulty of actually putting the ball into the back of the net that the achievement of a hat-trick is uniquely lauded.

The term itself has origins in the 19th century and it is now a common feature of football's everyday lexicon.

Goal takes a look at the meaning of hat-trick, when it first came into use, records and more.


What is a hat-trick?


The term 'hat-trick' is used to define when a player achieves the feat of scoring three goals in a single game.

Goals do not need to be scored in succession and it does not matter whether they are scored during normal regulation time or extra time.

Due to the relative rarity of the feat, it has become tradition for players who score a hat-trick of goals to be given the match ball as a symbolic reward or memento.

When a player has scored two goals in a game - which is sometimes known as 'a brace' - they are often described as being "on a hat-trick" due to the fact that another goal will complete a hat-trick.

In Italy, the word for hat-trick is tripletta and in France it is known as a coup du chapeau or triplé. Interestingly, the English term hat-trick tends to be used in Germany and Spain.

What is a "perfect hat-trick"?

In football, a "perfect hat-trick" can be achieved by scoring one goal with the right foot, one goal with the left foot and one goal with the head.


Why is it called a hat-trick?


Lionel Messi Barcelona hat-trick

Nowadays, the term 'hat-trick' is widely used across a variety of sports, but it is believed to have originated in cricket. 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was first used in 1858 after English cricketer H.H. Stephenson took three wickets in three consecutive deliveries during a game between an all-England team and Hallam.

A collection was held afterwards, with money being placed into a hat before being presented to Stephenson.

There are also connotations associated with the practice of magicians conjuring unexpected items from a hat.


Which players have the most hat-tricks?


Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

As you'd expect, players who are particularly adept at goalscoring are the ones who have scored the most hat-tricks.

Former Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers striker Alan Shearer holds the record for most hat-tricks in the Premier League with 11, while Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and ex-Liverpool star Robbie Fowler each scored nine. Harry Kane already has eight to his name, putting him level with Thierry Henry and Michael Owen.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the most hat-tricks in La Liga, tallying 34 during his time with Real Madrid, but Lionel Messi has the most in Champions League history, with eight to his name - one more than his Portuguese rival.

In Serie A, one must go back to the 1940s and 1950s for the all-time records pertaining to hat-tricks, in what is perhaps an indicator of how difficult it has become to score in Italy since the advent of Catenaccio in the country. Former AC Milan and Roma star Gunnar Nordahl scored 17 hat-tricks during his time playing in the division, which is still the current record.

Four players are tied for the accolade of the most World Cup hat-tricks, with Gerd Muller, Sandor Kocsis, Just Fontaine and Gabriel Batistuta each hitting two trebles on football's grandest stage.


Fastest hat-tricks


Sadio Mane Southampton hat-trick 2015

Getting three goals in any game is tough, but some players have managed to do it within remarkably short time-frames.

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Sadio Mane boasts the record for the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history, scoring three times for Southampton in the space of 2 minutes and 35 seconds against Aston Villa on May 16, 2015. Mane usurped the previous record of four minutes and 33 seconds, which was set by Fowler for Liverpool against Arsenal in 1994.

Despite scoring the most hat-tricks in La Liga, Ronaldo hasn't managed to squeeze them into a short period. The record in Spain's top division belongs to Luis Perez, who scored three goals in three minutes for Real Sociedad against Logrones in the 1994-95 season.

The record for the fastest hat-tricks ever scored in Serie A belong to former Torino star Valentino Mazzola and ex Inter forward Antonio Angelillo, who both managed three goals in two minutes. Mazzola did it against Vicenza in 1947, while Angelillo achieved it over 10 years later against SPAL in 1958.

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