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Michael Tonnies 1959-2017: The man who scored a five-minute hat trick

Michael Tonnies
Michael Tonnies has died at the age of 57.

Behind him, some players fight for the ball as a souvenir but Michael Tonnies isn't bothered. Sporting a classic 1990s mullet and a moustache, which badly needs shaving, the MSV Duisburg forward has just scored five goals in his side's 6-2 win against Karslruher SC -- and he set up the other one too.

On his 80th minute substitution, the 31-year-old is given a standing ovation by around 15,000 fans at Duisburg's Wedaustadion and is now talking to a reporter on the edge of the pitch with a blanket around his shoulders. "I am actually quite satisfied," he says. "I might have scored five for a youth team, but I can't really recall it."

"I can't tell you. I just don't know," he says when asked about when he scored his last hat trick. And if he managed to score four in the second division? "No... It's just unique. Every shot hit the net."

The day was Aug. 27, 1991. The day a new era in football dawned. It was the last season before the introduction of English Premier League and the first of the new UEFA Champions League.

Between Karlsruhe's goalposts a 22-year-old goalkeeper called Oliver Kahn, going into his first full season as his hometown club's No. 1 keeper, took his place. But on that night, Kahn was powerless to stop Tonnies (nicknamed "Tornado" by some fans and "the fat one" by others -- look at his movement on the pitch and it will all make perfect sense).

The Essen-born forward had made his first steps in professional football aged only 19 at Schalke, but left the club after making only seven top flight appearances. He fought his way through the obscurities of the lower leagues, and at times seemed more interested in things off the pitch than on it, but resurfaced to become 2.Bundesliga's top scorer with 29 goals in the 1990-1991 season to help them to second place and a spot in the top flight.

In only his sixth Bundesliga match for Duisburg, and his 13th in total, Tonnies made history with his hat trick in five minutes against Karslruher (a record which would only fall in September 2015 when Bayern's Robert Lewandowski netted three in three minutes and 22 seconds against VfL Wolfsburg, before bagging another two).

That night, Tonnies opened the scoring by beating Kahn from inside the box after 10 minutes, two minutes later he managed a bicycle kick, before landing his hat trick with a neat flick from a low cross on 15 minutes.

Before half-time Tonnies added a fourth goal with a diving header and, in-between bagging a fifth, he set up Ewald Lienen with a brilliant pass behind the lines. It ended 6-2.

"I was standing with my back towards the goal, and hit the ball with my first touch," Tonnies said of his bicycle kick. "Today, I was favoured by fortune. A goal getter needs that. I am actually quite satisfied."

Tonnies contributed a total of 13 goals in 33 matches that season, but it was not enough for Duisburg who ran out of luck and were relegated. The attacker left for nearby Wuppertaler SV, during one of their rare visits to the second league, and by the end of the 1993-1994 season he had retired.

Tonnies may have only ever played one full season in the Bundesliga, but his legacy remains: Five goals in one match and a hat trick within five minutes.

After he retired, he opened a pub, smoked around 80 cigarettes a day, drank, was diagnosed with a pulmonary emphysema, and needed a lung transplant in 2013. He spent the last couple of years as a stadium co-announcer for MSV Duisburg, and witnessed Robert Lewandowski break his long-standing record in September 2015.

But on Jan. 26, 2017, one of the tragic heroes of German football passed away. He was only 57.

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.

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