Off The Ball

A handful of heroic hat-tricks

Geoff Hurst scores England's third goal against West Germany in the World Cup final at Wembley
© Getty Images

The tradition of leaving the field with the match ball is a just reward for having bagged three goals in a single game. But many hat-tricks have been scored which will be remembered in history for their importance or, in some cases, their unique nature. recalls some of those memorable trebles.

Former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler holds the record for the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history, completing a treble in just four-and-a-half minutes against Arsenal at Anfield in August 1994. After opening the scoring on 26 minutes, the man Reds fans referred to as ‘God’ beat visiting goalkeeper David Seaman twice more in quick succession to set a benchmark which has yet to be matched in England’s top division. Lower league forward James Hayter produced an even quicker effort while playing for Bournemouth, however, scoring three times in 140 seconds after coming on as a late substitute against Wrexham in 2004.

Paraguayan goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert became famous around the world for his ability from set-pieces and penalties, ending his career with a remarkable 62 goals at club level as well as eight for his country. His finest hour came in 1999 when he became the first goalkeeper in football history to score a hat-trick, converting three penalties for Velez Sarsfield against Ferro Carril Oeste.

There have been 48 hat-tricks scored at the FIFA World Cup™, the latest being Gonzalo Higuain’s for Argentina against Korea Republic at South Africa 2010. Sandor Kocsis, Just Fontaine, Gerd Muller and Gabriel Batistuta have all managed the feat twice at the FIFA World Cup, with the latter the only player to have bagged a treble in two different tournaments. The first FIFA World Cup hat-trick was scored by USA's Bert Patenaude at the inaugural tournament in 1930 while the most famous remains Geoff Hurst’s for England in 1966 against West Germany at Wembley, which is still the only treble recorded in a FIFA World Cup Final.

Rivaldo raises Camp Nou roof
Brazilian legend Rivaldo produced many fantastic performances for Barcelona but none continue to capture the imagination of the Catalan faithful like his stunning hat-trick on the final day of the season against Valencia in 2001. The goals themselves were of astounding quality – first, a whipped free-kick which nestled into the corner off the post; his second, a strike from outside the box which he hit with such venom that he subsequently fell over; and finally, the icing on the cake, an incredible overhead kick from the edge of the area.

But the context of the match raises the level of his hat-trick even further. Barça started the game knowing they needed victory to qualify for the following season’s UEFA Champions League and their playmaker almost single-handedly ensured that would be the case, with his final strike sealing a 3-2 triumph with minutes remaining. Asked recently by what he considers to be his greatest performances, Rivaldo said: "The game against Valencia in 2001 when I scored a hat-trick, one of which was an overhead kick."

The game against Valencia in 2001 when I scored a hat-trick, one of which was an overhead kick.

Sinisa Mihajlovic had a habit of scoring from free-kicks, notching 27 Serie A goals from dead-ball situations, three of those coming in one game in 1998. Mihajlovic had joined Lazio earlier that year from Sampdoria and returned to haunt his former club with his trademark powerful set-pieces. Staying in Serie A, earlier this year Napoli’s Edinson Cavani scored a hat-trick of headers against Juventus. Tomas Skuhravy and Miroslav Klose both achieved the same feat at the 1990 and 2002 FIFA World Cups respectively.

Dirk Kuyt’s hat-trick for Liverpool against Manchester United in March this year – his first for the club – was scored from a total of just seven yards as the Dutchman poached each strike in the opposition’s six-yard box. In February, Argentinian Carlos Tevez grabbed a treble on his 27th birthday as Manchester City beat West Bromwich Albion 3-0.

Back in February 1999, meanwhile, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored four goals in ten minutes after coming on as a substitute during Manchester United’s emphatic 8-1 win at Nottingham Forest. Another United marksman, Wayne Rooney, scored a hat-trick on his debut for the Red Devils in the Champions League against Fenerbahce in September 2004, while Tuncay Sanli matched that effort in the return fixture ten weeks later.

Perfection attainedA 'perfect' hat-trick, consisting of a goal apiece from the right foot, the left and the head, is perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing of trebles. There are some memorable examples, including Michel Platini’s for France at UEFA EURO 1984. The midfielder had scored three times in France’s second game of the tournament against Belgium and repeated the feat in their final group game against Yugoslavia, scoring the first with his left foot before adding a diving header and a right-footed free-kick.

In March 2002, Netherlands striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink managed a similar feat for Chelsea against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. His first was planted into the far corner from outside the box with his right foot before he added a second with a glancing header. The Dutchman then completed the set with a carbon copy of his first goal, only this time with his left foot. More recently, Croatia forward Ivica Olic scored a perfect hat-trick of his own as Bayern Munich beat Lyon 3-0 away from home to book their place in the 2010 Champions League final, which they went on to lose to Inter Milan.

There were countless performances from recently retired Ronaldo which took fans’ breath away, but the one which stands out for many is his hat-trick against Manchester United at Old Trafford in a UEFA Champions League quarter-final, second leg in 2003. Real Madrid held a 3-1 lead from the first leg at the Bernabeu, where it had been team-mate Raul who inflicted the damage. However, it was the Brazilian who finished the English side off, first catching goalkeeper Fabien Barthez unaware at his near post before finishing a team move with a tap-in. His third was a sumptuous strike from 25 yards which earned O Fenômeno a standing ovation from the whole stadium when he later left the field as a substitute.

Similarly, Dennis Bergkamp has a fine collection of jaw-dropping goals to choose from, two of which came during one outstanding hat-trick for Arsenal against Leicester City in 1997. The Dutch forward’s first was a wonderfully placed effort from a short corner routine, with his second a rather more straightforward one-on-one finish which looped into the net. His third was Bergkamp in microcosm and a precursor to his winning goal for the Netherlands against Argentina at the FIFA World Cup a year later. Trapping a ball over the top perfectly, Bergkamp beat a defender with two deft touches before coolly side-footing home.

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