Matthew Hoppe: Turn this win into momentum
With the match ball gripped tightly in his right hand and his left holding up three fingers, Matthew Hoppe gave the camera a big grin as he walked from the pitch following Saturday’s 4-0 win over TSG Hoffenheim. The American had every reason to smile, with his hat-trick not only playing a huge role in the Royal Blues’ long-awaited victory, but also making Bundesliga history.
It was the first time in the 57-year history of the German top flight that an American had scored three goals in a match. The 19-year-old also became the youngest Schalke player to score a Bundesliga hat-trick. The last Royal Blue to find the back of net three times in a game was Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting on 6th December 2014 in a 4-0 win over VfB Stuttgart. “I’m just over the moon,” said Hoppe, “more than anything because we got the win,” he added modestly. The striker also gave thanks to Amine Harit, who set up all three of his goals with inch-perfect passes.
I go for chips every now and again in training, so I’ve got the confidence to try it in a game.
Hoppe lofted the ball over Oliver Baumann to make it 1-0 in the 42nd minute, rounded the TSG goalkeeper for his second in the 57th minute and completed his treble in the 63rd minute with an outside-of-the-boot finish. “The first goal was the easier of the three because I just instinctively chipped the ball over the goalkeeper,” said the teenager from California. “I go for chips every now and again in training, so I’ve got the confidence to try it in a game.”
Praise from Gross and Kolasinac
Christian Gross spoke about Hoppe’s performance at his post-match press conference. “He had an amazing day. He will remember it for the rest of his career,” said the Swiss coach, who praised Hoppe’s incredible and professional attitude: “Matthew earned even more credit this past week because he always gives 100 percent in each training session,” noted Gross.
Sead Kolasinac also commended his new teammate, who he describes as a quiet and loveable guy, but one who doesn’t hold back when he’s on the pitch: “You saw just how hard he got stuck in. He can be very proud of himself.”
A confidence-inspiring win
Matthew Hoppe is hoping that the long-awaited victory will give the Royal Blues a push for the rest of the season. “We have a strong team. We’ve been through a very difficult period and now we have a new-found confidence that can help us turn this win into some momentum,” said the American, who joined the Knappenschmiede academy from the States in summer 2019. “I hope that we can maintain that self-belief and pick up some more wins to help us stay up.”