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Matthew Hoppe, first American to score hat trick in Bundesliga, is fueled by his faith

FC Schalke snapped their 30-game winless streak in the German Bundesliga on Saturday thanks to an unlikely source: 19-year-old California native Matthew Hoppe. The victory ensured Schalke would not match the league’s longest run without a win, set by Tasmania Berlin in 1965-66.

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Hoppe netted a hat trick in the team’s 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim, becoming the first American to record a hat trick in the German top flight. He joins Chelsea star Christian Pulisic and national team legend Clint Dempsey as the only U.S. internationals to do so in one of Europe’s top five leagues.

“I don’t know how to feel,” he said after the game. “I am excited. I am happy that the team got the win and that I was able to contribute to it. ”

Hoppe – whose Twitter bio says “Jesus and Schalke footballer” – was originally committed to play for San Diego State until Schalke offered him a contract, which he signed in June 2019. He took to Twitter to thank God and his family after officially joining Schalke:

Hoppe spent time with the team’s reserve side prior to making his Bundesliga debut on Nov. 28. He got the start that day and registered two shots in 80 minutes of action against Borussia Mönchengladbach.

“I was obviously surprised but I was ready,” he said following his debut. “I’ve dreamed of this moment and by the grace of God I was given my chance.”

New coach Christian Gross liked what he’d seen from Hoppe and moved him back into the starting lineup for the coach’s first game in charge on Jan. 2, a 3-0 loss to Hertha Berlin. A second straight start paid dividends as Hoppe scored the first three goals of his professional career.

The Barcelona Residency Academy graduate often references his faith on social media in both German and English.

With the winless streak out of the way, the next goal for Hoppe and his teammates is to avoid relegation. Schalke currently sit in 17th place in the 18-team league, four points behind 16th-place Köln. In the Bundesliga, the bottom two teams are automatically relegated and the team that finishes in 16th enters a play-off with the third-place finisher in the second division of the German soccer system.

Schalke face Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday afternoon before a key clash with Köln on Jan. 20 and a date with 2019-20 Champions League winners and eight-time defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on Jan. 24.

If they are able to stay in the Bundesliga, Hoppe’s unforgettable performance at the lowest point of their season will be one of the key reasons why.

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