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Ranked! The 15 best hat-tricks of all-time: starring Bale, Berba, Bergkamp and more

Rivaldo hat-trick Valencia

Hat-tricks are great, aren’t they? Good, we’re glad you agree. But prepare to stop agreeing with us, because FFT is about to rank football’s greatest trebles – and a certain World Cup final one isn’t among them

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While Geoff Hurst’s perfect hat-trick (header, right foot, left foot) in the 1966 showpiece at Wembley was undoubtedly a stunning achievement – nobody else has scored three in a World Cup final – we’re going to be rating the goals themselves. And even if the third was a belting strike that Hurst nonetheless admits was aimed towards the Wembley car park, his first goal was the result of some abysmal German marking, and the second… well, it wasn’t a goal, was it?

No, we’ve selected football’s technically best hat-tricks. How? By rating the quality of each individual strike and, because importance is still important, measuring the significance of the treble as a whole, from the quality of the opposition to the impact made on that game, season and even career.

NEWS Rivaldo remembers “perfect” Barcelona bicycle kick in all-time great hat-trick

There will be tears. We’ve no room for Cristiano Ronaldo, nor Lionel Messi (Arsenal’s defence was a shambles that day), nor Justin Kluivert. However, we can offer the original Ronaldo, alongside Zlatan, Gazza and Steve Watson. Enjoy...

15. Dimitar Berbatov, Man United 3-2 Liverpool (September 2010)

Goal 1: All right, so we’re not off to a great start. This isn’t a bad header considering Berbatov has to stoop backwards while wrapped in a bear hug, but Fernando Torres lets go when it matters most and Paul Konchesky on the line can’t even handball properly. 1/5

Goal 2: Cynics will say this goal is the only reason Berbatov’s hat-trick makes the cut. Wrong: it’s one of two reasons. The way he traps Nani’s cross, gets his feet in order and unleashes a beautiful bicycle kick is nothing short of perfect. It’s unstoppable – and +1 style point for in-off-the-bar. 5/5

Goal 3: The deciding goal is a deft header following a neat move; it’s not fancy, but he couldn’t place it much better. 2/5

Significance: A late derby winner in a season where United won the title and Berbatov the Golden Boot? It was fairly important, yes. 4/5

Score: 12/20

14. Steve Watson, Everton 4-0 Leeds (September 2003)

Goal 1: You don’t expect right-backs to score hat-tricks in open play, but Watson – on the wing in this match – had once been a striker and it shows in his powerful finish for the opener. 3/5

Goal 2: Hit first time, with three Leeds players between him and the goal: this is harder than it looks. As with Goal 3, there’s also some fine play from James McFadden in the build-up. 4/5

Goal 3: We think the word here is ‘cute’. 3/5

Significance: David Moyes’s Everton didn’t score in the league for six weeks after this and they’d ultimately finish 17th, so every goal mattered. 3/5

Score: 13/20

13. Tam Hanlon, Pollok Juniors 5-1 Neilston (August 2016)

Goal 1: What? We’re an inclusive bunch and Scottish non-league football has a right to representation. Anyway, this is a proper free-kick, sidefooted with tremendous power in the finest tradition of Matt Le Tissier. 4/5

Goal 2: This shot should, should drag low and wide. It doesn’t. 4/5

Goal 3: Following the right-back’s second set-piece beaut of the day, Pollok would later tweet, dryly: “Hanlon fails to score from free-kick, 74’.” 4/5

Significance: With all due respect to the Exsel Sectional League Cup… 1/5

Score: 13/20

12. Ronaldo, Barcelona 3-2 Valencia (October 1996)

Goal 1: Take note of where he receives the ball. Ronaldo had a knack in his youth of making football look stupidly easy in execution and approach. Why complicate things, when you could just run very quickly towards the bit where the round thing goes? 4/5

Goal 2: Just look at him go! 2/5

Goal 3: Barcelona’s pressing is crucial, but again: mark where Ronaldo takes over. He’s almost in the centre circle. Five seconds and five touches later, four defenders are behind him and the ball is in the net. He dribbles with startling pace and precision. 4/5

Significance: While this isn’t the most important hat-trick in our list to be scored by a Brazilian in a 3-2 league win for Barcelona over Valencia (just you wait), it’s a timeless reminder of Ronaldo’s incredible single season in Catalonia. 3/5

Score: 13/20

11. Michael Chopra, Cardiff 3-2 Leicester (January 2007)

Goal 1: This is probably the only non-alphabetical ranking to place Chopra ahead of Ronaldo, and we’re off to a strong start with a stonking free-kick stolen from Cardiff’s set-piece king, Peter Whittingham. 4/5

Goal 2: Running on to Joe Ledley’s pass, Chopra casually lifts a first-time half-volleyed lob over a questionably positioned keeper, just as no striker ever trains to do. 4/5

Goal 3: This inch-perfect strike past three defenders and a goalkeeper who’s recovered his ground would later be described in the BBC’s match report as Chopra “rolling home an easy third”. What game were they watching? 4/5

Significance: Chopra’s triple took Cardiff into the play-offs places briefly, before they wound up 13th. 2/5

Score: 14/20

10. Sinisa Mihajlovic, Lazio 5-2 Sampdoria (December 1998)

Goal 1: The deflection should help Samp’s goalkeeper if anything, but you don’t save those. 3/5

Goal 2: Or those. 4/5

Goal 3: Or those. 4/5

Significance: The rarity of scoring three free-kicks in one game adds meaning, even if Lazio did miss out on the title by a single point (Sampdoria went down by two). 3/5

Score: 14/20

9. Wayne Rooney, Man United 6-2 Fenerbahce (September 2004)

Goal 1: Rooney couldn’t have dreamt a better United debut. The 18-year-old gets off the mark with an emphatic strike, after his clever run is found by a perfect pass from that famous midfield creator… *checks notes*... Ruud van Nistelrooy? That can’t be right. 3/5

Goal 2: FFT can’t decide if we prefer the exquisite dummy or the clinical finish. 4/5

Goal 3: There are five players standing over this free-kick – six if you include Eric Djemba-Djemba. They all get closer than the wandering Rustu Recber does. 3/5

Significance: It doesn’t get much bigger than scoring a Champions League hat-trick on debut and Rooney demanded immediate respect, even waving away Ryan Giggs in order to take his treble-sealing free-kick. And he set up David Bellion for the sixth. 4/5

Score: 14/20

8. Matt Le Tissier, Southampton 4-1 Norwich (February 1990)

Goal 1: Hard though it is to believe he was ever eligible, Le Tissier won PFA Young Player of the Year in 1989/90 when he was a mere 21-year-old in the body of a 41-year-old. At least it was a strong 41-year-old, judging by this effort. 2/5

Goal 2: Nobody else has made great goals look quite so scruffy. Here, Le Tissier glues the ball to his feet, beats poor Ian Culverhouse three times and then, tiring of such japery, lazily dispatches his millimetre-perfect shot while stifling a yawn. Ridiculous. 5/5

Goal 3: There might be something in the fact that Le Tissier’s home of Guernsey is nearer to France than England, because the way he shrugs off a marker is almost Gallic in its insouciance – and then there’s the Cantona-esque chip that kisses the post on its way in, just as his second goal did. Mon Dieu! 4/5

Significance: Even if they came in ‘just’ a mid-table First Division clash, these goals made people start to take notice of this unique talent en route to his first 20-goal league season. 3/5

Score: 14/20