Last updated on October 2nd, 2022
You may have noticed that players who score a hat-trick will take the ball home at the end of the match.
Why are these players allowed to bring home the match ball?
Here’s what you need to know:
What is the match ball tradition when you score a hat-trick?
When you score a hat-trick, it is a tradition where you will get to keep the match ball. The match ball acts as a memento for your great achievement during the match.
In the rules and the Laws of the Game, there are no official rules to decide what happens when you score a hat-trick.
Even for the Golden Boot, there are no official rules too. This is up to the different football federations to decide how the awards should be given.
As such, this is more of an unspoken tradition rather than something that is part of the law!
Here are some examples of players receiving the match-ball after scoring a hat-trick:
#1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Lorient (2014/15)
In this match against FC Lorient, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick. When he asked for the ball at the end of the match, the referee refused to give it to him!
In the end, he still managed to bring the ball home as a memento.
#2 Lucas Moura vs Ajax (2018/19)
After Moura received his match ball, he filmed this light-hearted video of him and the ball:
#3 Sadio Mane vs Manchester City (2015/16)
When Mane was holding the ball, it was jokingly stolen by the referee, Andre Marriner.
#4 Anthony Martial vs Sheffield United (2019/2020)
Martial scored his first ever career hat-trick against Sheffield United in this Premier League match.
He completely forgot to collect his match ball at the end of the match!
#5 Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland scored many hat-tricks when he played for Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian League.
He jokingly told reporters that he sleeps with the 5 match balls that he had collected that season!
#6 Paco Alcacer vs Eibar (2015/16)
Paco Alcacer scored a hat-trick against Eibar in this La Liga match.
In the post-match interview, he mentioned how he asked his teammates to sign the match ball that he received.
This is a heartfelt gesture by Alcacer to acknowledge his teammates.
#7 Raheem Sterling vs Watford (2018/19)
Raheem Sterling was awarded the match-ball after he scored a hat-trick in Manchester City’s victory over Watford.
#8 Diogo Jota vs Leicester (2018/19)
After scoring a last-minute goal to win the match and get his hat-trick, Diogo Jota received both the match ball and the Man of the Match Award!
#9 Bruno Fernandes vs Leeds United (2021/2022)
Bruno Fernandes scored a hat-trick on Matchday 1 of the 2021/2022 Premier League. After a great performance, he was awarded with the match ball.
Do players take the match ball home?
Players will take home the match ball if they scored a hat-trick in the match. They will take this home as a memento to commemorate this feat they have achieved in the match.
Who gets the ball if there are 2 hat-tricks in the same game?
There are no official rules regarding players being able to keep the match ball after scoring a hat-trick. When there are 2 players who score a hat-trick in the same game, both of them should be able to bring back a match ball.
This is because there is more than one match ball being used during a football match. Both players will be able to bring home the ball since there are many duplicates!
Even Gary Linker mentioned this in a tweet:
However, there is no hard and fast rule regarding this. If only one match ball is to be awarded, it will usually be given to the player who scored the earlier hat-trick.
It could also be only given to the Man of the Match (MOTM). This is the player who had the most contributions during the game.
There are many balls that are available, so there should not be much of a dispute, even if both players want the ball!
Nevertheless, the occurrence of scoring 2 hat-tricks in the same game is quite rare. Here are some examples:
#1 Empoli vs Juventus (2003/04)
However, it was unclear who took home the match ball that day.
#2 Arsenal vs Southampton (2002/03)
Both Robert Pires and Jermaine Pennant scored hat-tricks in this match.
Apparently, Pennant asked Pires if he could get the match ball since he completed his hat-trick first. Pires was ‘cool with it’ and only Pennant kept the match ball.
#3 Wolfsburg vs Bayer Leverkusen (2014/15)
Son Heung-Min scored a hat-trick too, but this was definitely overshadowed by Dost!
There are a few nicknames that are given when a player scores 4 goals, such as poker or haul. However, none of them are widely used compared to ‘hat-trick’!
Again, it was unclear who took the match ball in the end.
#4 Barcelona vs Valencia (2015/16)
Barcelona were merciless during their 7-goal rout of Valencia. In this match, Lionel Messi scored 3 goals, while Suarez scored 4.
Messi was more deserving of the match ball as he scored his hat-trick first. When Messi was offered the ball, he passed it to Suarez instead.
However, Messi still took home one of the other match balls as a memento too!
#5 Manchester City vs Manchester United (2022/23)
Both Erling Haaland and Phil Foden scored hat-tricks as Manchester City ran riot against Man Utd.
During the post-match interview, it was clarified that both of them would be taking home a match ball each!
What do footballers do with the match ball?
Footballers will usually keep the match ball as a memento after scoring a hat-trick in that match. Some of these match balls would have the match details imprinted on the ball, which makes it even more memorable for the player.
One famous player who mentioned what he does with his match balls is Erling Haaland.
Having scored 5 hat-tricks in the 2019/20 season, he claimed that he sleeps with all of the match balls that he received!
Cristiano Ronaldo is another player who has kept a collection of all of his match balls:
Do you get the match ball for receiving the ‘Man of the Match’?
Players who are the ‘Man of the Match’ will usually receive a separate award that has been already prepared by the competition he is playing in. In the event that the Man of the Match also scored a hat-trick, he will receive both the match ball and the Man of the Match award.
The Man of the Match award is usually a separate award, and is not the match ball. A player who receives the Man of the Match will get that award, but not the match ball.
He will only get the match ball if he scores a hat-trick!
Do you get the match ball for 3 assists?
There is no official rule that determines which player is able to take home the match ball. However, the match ball is usually awarded to a player who has scored 3 goals, and not to a player who provided 3 assists in the same match.
In the world of football, scoring 3 goals is seen to be a greater feat compared to providing 3 assists in the same match. This is why ‘hat-trick’ usually refers to goals, and not assists.
Assists are counted in chances created, but it is not counted in the key pass statistic. You can read my comparison to find out the differences between these 2.
However, in this game against Watford, Alexander-Arnold provided 3 assists in the same match.
He took the match ball home to commemorate this feat that he achieved. Apart from Alexander-Arnold, there has not been reports of other players taking home the match ball after providing a hat-trick of assists!
The keeping of the match ball is more of a symbolic tradition, rather than an official rule. Hat-tricks are something that don’t occur often in football.
This is why something special is done to celebrate this feat.
It is even more rare to have 2 players scoring a hat-trick in the same match! However, there should not be a problem as there are many other match balls being used for a single match.
Both players will still be able to take home a ball each if they wanted to!
If you’re wondering what it is called when the same player scores more than 3 goals, you can check out my guide here too!
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