From the Mighty Quinn to the Egyptian King: The story of PL opening weekend hat-tricks

Amidst the drama of Liverpool’s pulsating 4-3 victory over Leeds last weekend, Mo Salah became the ninth player to score a hat-trick on the opening weekend of a Premier League season. Here is a look at those who preceded him:-  

Micky Quinn, 1993 

Mick Quinn became the first player to score a hat-trick on the opening weekend of a Premier League season on 14 August 1993. Things were different back then. His goals came in the unlikely circumstances of Coventry City beating Arsenal 3-0 at Highbury. Quinn scored a penalty past David Seaman in the first half before adding a couple more goals around the hour mark. The Mighty Quinn said he was “the fastest player over a yard” in the league and he had a knack of starting quickly. Quinn earned his moniker when he joined the Sky Blues in September 1992 when setting the record by scoring in his first six Premier League games, a feat that has still not been matched. 

Matthew Le Tissier, 1995

Matthew Le Tissier scored the only opening weekend hat-trick in a losing cause as Southampton were beaten 4-3 at home by Nottingham Forest in the first game of the 1995/96 season. Le Tissier dispatched two penalties (both of which he won) with his customary elan before nonchalantly curling a direct free-kick into the top corner – although it was all in vain as goals from Colin Cooper, Ian Woan and two from Brian Roy helped Forest win at the Dell. That nonchalance was symptomatic of the Channel Islander’s consummate skills allied with his laid back approach. Le Tissier had a habit of scoring hat-tricks for a losing side. He had already done so against Oldham  in another 4-3 loss on the last day of the 1992/93 season at Boundary Park. Dion Dublin, Dwight Yorke and Roque Santa Cruz also scored hat-tricks in defeat but Le Tissier remains the only player to have done so twice in the Premier League. 

Kevin Campbell, 1996

Having won a game despite conceding a hat-trick on the first day of the season in 1995, Forest won a game thanks to a hat-trick on the first day of the following season. Kevin Campbell’s trio of goals came in the space of thirty-four minutes. He lobbed Steve Ogrizovic in the 13th minute and celebrated his second with a slightly bizarre cricket swing that the commentator described as “more suited to Trent Bridge than Highfield Road”. Campbell saved his best for last though, deftly bringing the ball under control outside the penalty area and taking a couple of touches before slipping past a pair of defenders and rifling a shot low into the far corner. In the space of a little more then half an hour, he had matched his entire tally for the previous season, which he achieved in just over 20 matches.

Fabrizio Ravanelli, 1996

On the same day that Campbell was dazzling the good folk of Coventry, an Italian was wowing Teeside. Fabrizio Ravanelli had surprisingly been enticed to Middlesbrough, having just won the Champions League with Juventus. This was quite a coup for chairman Steve Gibson and manager Bryan Robson, and the White Feather immediately repaid their faith in his debut at The Riverside against Liverpool. Starting with an emphatic penalty after Juninho had been brought down, he then slotted from close range for his second, a goal he toasted with his trademark shirt-over-the-head celebration. “He may earn himself a rebuke from the FA as you are not actually supposed to bear your chest this season,” noted the commentator. His third was a slightly scuffed effort that rolled through the legs of Phil Babb and into the corner past a bamboozled David James, but the celebrations were not hindered by the lack of aesthetics as Ravanelli became an instant hero. 

The Italy striker scored 16 goals in the league that season, including another hat-trick against Derby (a club he later played for), but his efforts were not enough to save Middlesbrough from relegation after they were deducted three points for failing to fulfil their fixture against Blackburn in December. Even though Middlesbrough reached both domestic cup finals that season, Ravanelli decided against playing in the English second tier, having promised “100% commitment in an effort to win trophies” when he signed. And just as he had arrived so Ravanelli disappeared swapping the bright lights of the North East for the allure of the South of France, when he moved to Marseille in September 1997 after that solitary season on Teeside. 

Dion Dublin, 1997

Coventry City have not played in the Premier League for 19 years, but they remain the only side to have provided two opening day hat-tricks. Dion Dublin emulated Mick Quinn’s achievement in August 1997, scoring all three goals as Coventry came from behind twice to beat Chelsea 3-2 at Highfield Road. His first was a header from a throw-in, his second was another header this time from a corner and his third, perhaps unpredictably, was a sumptuous half-volley that he sliced into the far corner of Ed de Goey’s net. 

Gabby Agbonlahor, 2008

Dublin was retired by the time Gabby Agbonlahor scored the next opening-day hat-trick. Having signed a new four-year contract with Aston Villa two days before the season began, Agbonlahor was  clearly in a hurry to show his worth to the club. He took just seven minutes to put three goals past his England colleague Joe Hart as Villa beat Manchester City 4-2 at Villa Park. Agbonlahor, who was only 21 at the time, scored with his right foot in the 69th, with his head in the 74th minute and with his left foot in the 76th minute, making this the perfect way to start the season. It wasn’t so perfect for Mark Hughes, who was taking charge of City for the first time. Not only was Agbonlahor’s the quickest treble out of the nine, coming in the space of seven minutes, but also he was the youngest of all the opening game hat-trick scorers. 

Didier Drogba, 2010

Didier Drogba helped reigning champions Chelsea thrash newly promoted West Bromwich Albion 6-0 at Stamford Bridge. His first was from a free-kick some 30 yards out, his second was a scruffy tap-in (although it was his 133rd for Chelsea, which took him past Jimmy Greaves in the Blues’ scoring charts) and his third owed much to a wicked deflection off a defender. Drogba had also scored three for Chelsea in the final game of the previous season – an 8-0 demolition of Wigan – which makes him one of six players (Les Ferdinand [1993]; Ian Wright [1994]; Thierry Henry [2005]; Wayne Rooney [2011] and Harry Kane [twice in 2017]) who have scored hat-tricks in consecutive Premier League games.

Raheem Sterling, 2019

Like Agbonlahor, Sterling scored all his three goals in the second half of reigning champions Manchester City’s 5-0 win at the London Stadium. West Ham’s day could have been even worse as City were denied a goal by VAR – the first time the system had been used in England. Sterling’s second goal was 50th in the Premier League for City, the sixth player to reach that milestone. His last was scored in the 91st minute, the only goal out of all the 27 opening-day strikes that was scored in added time. This was the first hat-trick of the 2019/20 season and he also scored the last in July coincidentally in another 5-0 away win this time at Brighton.

Mo Salah, 2020

When Liverpool’s Egypt striker stroked home his penalty in the fourth minute of their game against Leeds at Anfield it was the quickest of all 27 opening-day hat-trick goals. Salah’s second was one of the best as he smashed the ball into the top corner to make it 3-2 after 33 minutes. Salah’s second penalty provided the denouement of this extraordinary game, with just two minutes remaining. As it came 84 minutes after his opener, this was the longest period over which any of these hat-tricks was scored. 

[This piece was based on a feature that was originally published in The Guardian in August 2019]

Published by richardfoster60

Author, broadcaster, historian, journalist. A regular contributor to the Guardian, Sky Sports and talkSPORT, my latest book is highly acclaimed Premier League Nuggets - "brilliantly written" - Darren Fletcher, "I love Premier League Nuggets" - Guy Mowbray, "the book is a labour of love" - Peter Drury.

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