Why Do Players Take the Soccer Ball After Scoring a Hat-Trick?

Soccer is a magical game that most players hold close to their hearts.

The goals that are scored in matches serve as significant milestones, and they also represent a culmination of all the hard work that players put in on the training ground.

Sometimes, players are able to produce massive goal outputs on the pitch, and every now and then you’ll come across a single performer who was able to score three goals within a particular game.

And one of the particularly interesting traditions present in this sport you may have already come across is when the said player takes the soccer ball with them – after the final whistle is blown – all because they scored those three goals within that match.

It’s such a fascinating sight!

But funnily enough, not many people know the reason why players perform such an action.

Which is why in this article I’m going to shed some light on the motives for taking the soccer ball home after registering a hat-trick of goals.

So, I’ll kick things off with a quick answer…

Players usually take the soccer ball home with them after producing a hat-trick in a game, because that specific match ball effectively serves as a memento which commemorates the significant scoring feat that they achieved on the day.

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You want to find out more about this beautiful custom?

Then read on!


Why players keep the soccer ball after completing a hat-trick of goals

At first glance, it’s easy to only come up with one possible reason as to why a player would go home with the match ball after a hat-trick.

But when you think about this topic on a much deeper level, you’ll realise that players also have other intentions in mind.

I’ll guide you through them all, starting with the most obvious one.


1. Memorabilia

why players take the soccer ball after a hat-trick - memorabilia

When a player manages to score a hat-trick of goals, they take the match ball home and typically keep it away within a trophy cabinet or another glass display frame.

This is a great way of remembering the achievement in the future, because the ball sits prominently inside a nice glass pane which the members of the family, visiting friends and the player himself/herself can easily see.

And because the rules of the game don’t contain any special dispensation that should take place when a player scores 3 goals, players are allowed to ask the referee to hand them the match ball at the final whistle.

Ultimately, the unspoken tradition of taking the soccer ball home serves as a great memento for the hat-trick action.


2. Personal motivation

It is well known that players like to use trophies and awards as a catalyst for furthering their own careers.

Such achievements are very effective at boosting their own motivation levels because, as is often the case with the highest soccer performers, the act of winning once incentivises them to win more, over and over again.

Let’s take the specific case of Manchester United’s superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

In 2019, the Portuguese professional stated that he wants to win more Ballon d’Or awards than his elite rival Lionel Messi.

On a talk show with ITV’s Piers Morgan, he was quoted as saying:

“The most golden balls in the history of football. I will love it, and I think I deserve it. Messi is a fantastic guy and a fantastic player, but I think after I have six, or seven, or eight then I’ll be more above him.”

This mentality can easily be transferred when it comes to a player’s attitude towards scoring hat-tricks, with Tottenham’s Harry Kane being a great case in point.

He recently revealed that he displays his match balls at home in glass boxes to remind himself of his impact on the field and what he can achieve in the future when it comes to performance.

Right when the first hat-trick is obtained and the achievement is fondly remembered by taking the soccer ball home after the game, the player subsequently gains the drive, hunger and determination to add more of these match balls to the cabinet.


3. Record keeping

Finally, players may also like to have their own personal way of recording how many hat-tricks that they have scored over the course of their professional career.

Now, in today’s world it’s never been easier to know how many hat-tricks a player has scored by utilising any of the plethora of statistical websites available.

But some players simply prefer their own individualized way of keeping tabs with their scoring exploits.


What do players do with the match ball after the game?

In this digital age of social media, lots of players like to keep fans updated on their lives outside of the game.

That includes showcasing their hat-trick match balls whilst they rest their feet on their days off!

Now, here are a couple of examples that illustrate the sorts of things that soccer players choose to do with their match balls after full-time:


Lucas Moura – soccer ball as a life companion

In this clip you see the Brazilian taking his hat-trick match ball with him everywhere he goes!

That includes trips to the bathroom where he can be seen brushing his teeth, and at the dinner table where the Champions League ball can be seen on a seat right next to Mr. Moura, who has a plateful of food in front of him.


Paco Alcacer – collecting team mate signatures

Now this hat-trick happened a while back when Paco Alcacer used to represent Valencia in La Liga.

He took the opportunity to have his match ball signed by all of his team mates, primarily because he recognised their efforts that contributed towards him scoring the three goals in the first place.


Can a player take the match ball home after scoring a hat-trick of own goals?

Not all hat-tricks are created equally!

Let me be clear on this…

A player who manages to hit the soccer ball into the back of their own net on three separate occasions within a match will not get to take that match ball home with them.

This is because, after all, players cannot be expected to walk to the referee after the game and ask them for the match ball that symbolises the disappointing way in which they let their team down on that particular day!


Who gets the match ball if 2 players scored a hat-trick?

Some matches may be so high-scoring that two different players – representing the same team or the opposing one – could register a hat-trick within a single fixture.

This has in fact happened a number of times throughout history.

One example is when former players David Trezeguet and Tommaso Rocchi both scored three goals in a tightly contested Serie A fixture for Juventus and Empoli respectively.

According to the Guardian – who consulted with the Football Association (FA) on this matter – there are no explicit rules as to who would receive the match ball.

But they pointed out that the first player to score a hat-trick would be the one who would get to go home with the match ball.

That would have meant that David Trezeguet would have missed out on the soccer ball memento, as Tommaso Rocchi netted his three goals 14 minutes before Trezeguet did.

However, because the tradition is not compulsory, you will notice that the aforementioned answer is not always what happens in reality.

This is best exemplified by the hat-tricks that Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored for Barcelona in a 7-goal rout of Valencia in a Copa Del Rey semi-final.

Source – The Guardian

On that day, both strikers left the field with a match ball in hand.


Do players get to keep the match ball for registering 3 assists?

Normally, you would expect players to only receive the match ball from the referee after the game if they scored a hat-trick of goals.

But for Liverpool’s Trent Alexander Arnold, a hat-trick of assists against Watford in a 5-0 win was seen as significant enough for him to be awarded with the match ball at full-time.

After the game, his manager – Jurgen Klopp – praised the right-back’s contribution and didn’t see any issue with the player making the request for the soccer ball.

So, there you have it!

As a player you can keep the match ball after a hat-trick of assists, just as you would if you scored a hat-trick of goals.


Final thoughts

Players take soccer balls home with them after scoring hat-tricks within games. They do this to commemorate their scoring performance; for keeping themselves motivated, in addition to having a bespoke method of recording all the hat-trick achievements that they managed throughout their careers.

Samuel Waihenya
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