Who is Matthew Hoppe? Meet the new Bundesliga star and Schalke hero

AFP , Monday 11 Jan 2021

Matthew Hoppe
US teenager Matthew Hoppe celebrates his hat-trick for Schalke on Saturday (AFP)

Christian Gross, Schalke's fourth coach this season, arrived in late December and has clearly spotted Hoppe's talent. The former Tottenham manager selected him for his first two games, including Saturday's thrashing as Schalke ended an astonishing run of 30 games without a win, one shy of the all-time Bundesliga record of 31 set by Tasmania Berlin in the 1960s.

- 'Unbelievably ambitious' -

"I have no words," Hoppe said after becoming the first American to score a Bundesliga hat-trick on what was just his fifth appearance in the league.

"The first goal was the easiest as it was pure instinct," he said of his deft chip which put Schalke on the path to a first league win since January last year.

"I hope the team can keep fighting, stay confident and stay in the league."

Hoppe needed just 21 minutes for his three goals to become the third-youngest player to score a Bundesliga hat-trick.

Ironically, Schalke are in their 30th straight season in the Bundesliga. One of Germany's best-supported teams, Hoppe's goals helped lift them off the bottom of the table, although they remain in the relegation zone, six points from outright safety after 15 games.

"He will always remember this day in his career," Gross said of Hoppe.

The veteran coach described a player who "doesn't shy away from working extremely hard" in training and is "unbelievably ambitious, has tremendous commitment and only thinks about Schalke.

"He wants to do whatever it takes to get us out of this situation. He's still very young and still has lots to learn in order to become a top-rate finisher, but we're working on that."

His hat-trick instantly made Hoppe Schalke's top scorer this season.

Bayern are due in Gelsenkirchen in a fortnight, but Hoppe is not assured of his place with the Royal Blues still on the lookout for another striker.

"Nothing has changed. We're working hard to strengthen the squad - especially up front," Gross said.

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