While winning the game by scoring goals as a team is the premise of football in the simplest terms, the contribution of every player matters. Players strive to achieve personal records while keeping their eyes on the prize, the team winning.
How can a player set a record of his own? Hitting the net double or thrice in a single game, then taking the game’s ball home after. That’s what pundits are referring to when they talk about ‘braces’ and ‘hat-tricks’ in their commentary.
In this article, I’ll briefly walk you through some common football terms. We’ll also go down memory lane to explore some of the game’s finest players scoring braces and hat tricks.
What Is a Brace in Football?
A brace in football or soccer is when a player scores two goals in the same match. They don’t have to be consecutive. It doesn’t have to end in winning the match. It only refers to a personal record for the player who scores a brace in a match.
Remember Cristiano Ronaldo’s brace against Sweden in September 2020 during the UEFA Nation’s League?
Curling in a free-kick over the wall and right into the goalkeeper’s left corner didn’t only grant Portogul a win, but it also helped the sensational player tally 101 goals playing for his national team.
It can also alter the path of the game. One hot game I particularly remember was the Champions League final between AC Milan and Liverpool back in 2007. After a sore loss to the Merseyside in the CL final of 2005, AC Milan was driven by rage in the 2007 final.
Although Liverpool has dominated the game for the most part. Italy’s Filippo Inzaghi managed to grace AC Milan with a brace that ended in them winning the game 2-1. That’s when scoring a brace is a real game changer!
When a player scores a brace, they’re referred to as being ‘on a hat-trick’ since they’re one goal away from scoring three goals in a match, which we call a hat-trick.
Why Is Is Called a Brace?
The word dates back to 1400 when it referred to a pair of something; dogs, pistols, rabbits, birds, etc. The Premier’s League football pundits commonly use the term ‘brace,’ which usually signifies hunting a pair of whatever prey. Similarly, a player can ‘bag a brace’ when he scores twice in the same game.
Players Who Scored the Most Braces in UEFA’s Champion’s League
Where do we look for the most significant records for braces?
I’d personally dive straight into one of the most prestigious football tournaments worldwide, UEFA’s Champion’s League, where Europe’s creme de la creme teams compete for the title of the best.
Third Place: Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich
With 100 goals under his belt, it’s only natural that Bayern Munich’s goal machine, Lewandowski, is on the list of the top brace scorers in the Champion’s League.
Taking the third spot gracefully, Lewa has scored a total of 20 braces in the Champions League, 13 of which were with Bayern Munich.
Second Place: Lionel Messi – PSJ
The game’s GOAT has to be featured on this list. No?
Lionel Messi graces this list in the second spot with 34 braces in the Champions League, all but one -PSG- for his beloved FC Barcelona. Being only one of two players who exceeded the mark of 100 CL goals and eight hat-tricks in the tournament, Messi is making history with these insane records!
In fact, Argentina’s prolific player scored five goals for his National team against Estonia in an international friendly earlier this month, June 2022. This rare occurrence is called a ‘glut’ in English, while the Spanish refer to it as a re-poker, with a poker used to refer to four goals.
First Place: Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United
Most individual records in the Champions League belong to the monumental Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese player is the CL’s all-time top goalscorer with a total of 139 goals, including 38 braces!
Ronaldo has won five Champions League titles, and he was the first player to do so. He won his first trophy with Manchester United in 2008, and the rest were with Real Madrid in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.
What Is a Hat Trick?
Football has stolen the term hat-trick from cricket. The term originated in 1859, referring to the British cricketer HH Stephenson who collected three different wickets from three deliveries consecutively.
The bowler’s fans went nuts for the record, and they bought him a hat to commemorate the incident. The name ‘hat-trick’ emerged from here and found its way to football later.
In football, a hat-trick refers to a player scoring three goals in the same game. Like a brace, the goals don’t have to be consecutive, nor do they need to belong to the winning team. However, you’re probably gonna be a part of the winning team if you scored a hat-trick. Right?
Scoring a hat-trick is already a great feat, but I’d be more intrigued to know the most special hat-trick records throughout the game’s history. Let’s take a look.
First FIFA WorldCup Hat Trick
While you might think that soccer isn’t USA’s strong suit, you’d be amazed to know that the first hat-trick record in the FIFA WorldCup belongs to Bert Patenaude, playing for the USA against Paraguay in 1930.
Fastest Hat Trick
How long do you think it takes for a single player to score three goals in a game on average? At least the first half, maybe? Think again.
During his time in Southhampton, Senegal’s marksman, Sadio Mane, managed to score a hat-trick in 16 minutes, against Aston Villa, in 2015. Although that’s a remarkable hat-trick, it’s not the fastest recorded.
Guinness World Records attribute the fastest hat-trick ever to Tommy Ross, right-winger of Ross County, who scored three goals against Nairn County in 90 seconds! This was in November 1964.
Most Hat Tricks of All Time
Multiple sources confirm that the Brazillian legend Pele rightfully owns the title of the game’s most hat-tricks scorer of all time. He has 92 reported hat-tricks with clubs he played for and his national team. Although many of these hat-tricks were scored in friendlies, they still count.