The Blue Tigers, as the Indian men's football team is known, played their first international match in September 1938. Here, Sportstar looks at the Indian footballers who have netted hat-tricks in international football over the years.
R. Lumsden (September 24, 1938)
R. Lumsden was the first to net a hat-trick in the Indian jersey and he achieved the feat back in 1938. Lumsden, a British Indian, had struck a hat-trick in a friendly against Australia. However, the Indians lost 5-4 and it remains the only instance when India lost a game when its player scored a hat-trick.
Sheoo Mewalal (March 16, 1952)
Sheeo Mewalal became the first player to score a hat-trick post-India's independence. Mewalal’s heroics powered the nation to a 4-0 win over Burma in the Colombo Quadrangular tournament in 1952. He was one of India’s best strikers at the time and was part of the 1948 Olympics team and even scored against Dutch club Ajax in an exhibition game. He was the top-scorer at the 1951 Asian Games and led India to the gold medal.
Puran Bahadur Thapa (December 26, 1954)
Two years after Mewalal, Puran Bahadur Thapa bagged a hat-trick to steer India to a 3-1 triumph against Pakistan in the Calcutta Quadrangular tournament held at the Eden Gardens. India won the tournament, for the second time running, and went on to win it the next two years as well.
Neville D’Souza (December 1, 1956)
He was the joint top-scorer of the tournament with four strikes and ensured India became the first Asian nation to enter the semifinal of the Olympics. He struck again in the semifinal against Yugoslavia, but India lost the game 4-1.
Marto Gracias (August 16, 1967)
India’s next hat-trick came 11 years later in a 4-0 blanking of Hong Kong in the Merdeka tournament in 1967 held in Kuala Lumpur. Marto Gracias was the match-winner as his strikes earned the Blue Tigers a comfortable win.
Subhash Bhowmick (August 5, 1971)
Bhowmick was among the top footballers at the time and played for both the Kolkata giants, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
Magan Singh Rajvi (July 23, 1974)
Former India captain Magan Singh Rajvi bagged a hat-trick against Thailand in the 1974 Merdeka tournament. India won the match 4-2. He was also a part of the Indian team that won the bronze medal at the 1970 Asian Games. He was conferred with the Arjuna award in 1973.
Shabbir Ali (August 16, 1976)
I. M. Vijayan (September 26 and September 28, 1999)
Vijayan had scored in the very first minute against Bhutan. India lost in the semis but won the bronze medal and Vijayan finished as the tournament's top-scorer with seven goals.
Sunil Chhetri (August 13, 2008; October 8, 2010; June 1 2018)
Sunil Chhetri is the only Indian to have scored three hat-tricks in international football. Chhetri, who is currently India’s most-capped footballer, brought up his first hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Tajikistan in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.
He once again got his name thrice on the scoresheet in a friendly against Vietnam in 2010. India won the tie 3-1.
Chhetri, who is second on the list of highest active international goal-scorers, struck his third hat-trick against Chinese Taipei in the 2018 Intercontinental Cup. His exploits saw India coast to a 5-0 win and eventually lift the title. Chhetri led the scoring charts with eight goals from four matches.
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