Wigan's Bent moved quickly to souvenir match-ball from Santa Cruz
The former Blackburn ace said: "I got the match ball because we were playing at home. I nicked it before Santa Cruz could get anywhere near it.
"He probably wasn't even thinking about it, having lost the game. But I wanted to be sure.
"I got it signed by all the Wigan boys, so there's no doubts.
"I don't care whose hat-trick was the better one. Just scoring three was enough. It's a proud moment for me.
"I have a cabinet at home, so it will go in there with my trophies and man-of-the-match awards."
Bent admitted it gave him no extra pleasure to sink his old club.
And he even apologised to his pal Brad Friedel after the game.
Bent added: "People have said it's nice to do it against an old club but it's not really the case here. Blackburn hold a special place in my heart.
"I got promoted with them and they gave me the chance to play at a higher level while I was there.
"They were very good to me and I have lots of good friends there. I said sorry to Brad at the end for sticking three past him!"