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

Gareth Bale Inter Milan hat-trick

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.

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. 3/5

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: 13/20