Thailand captain Chanathip Songkrasin made AFF Suzuki Cup history by becoming the first player to receive the Most Valuable Player award for a record third time, but where does Chanathip rank among the top players in the tournament history?

Since the inaugural edition in 1996, the premier Southeast Asia international football tournament has been regarded by many ASEAN players as the highest stage to prove themselves as the best footballers in the region, and we have witnessed a long and decorated history of footballing icons.

With the conclusion of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020, we had a go at shortlisting the top finest players that have graced the competition during its 25-year history. These includes the current crop of players and legends that have mesmerised everyone with their footballing abilities, dominated headlines, won individual accolades, and made huge impact for their respective teams.

We narrowed down to six influential players to choose from in the poll below. Now it’s up to you, the fans, to vote for your AFF Suzuki Cup’s ‘GOAT’!

Chanathip Songkrasin (Thailand)

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2020, 2016, 2014

It’s three in a row for Thailand’s main talisman – Chanathip Songkrasin has helped the War Elephants win the AFF Suzuki Cup at his previous three tournament appearances, where he was also crowned the tournament’s MVP on all three occasions. It is no exaggeration to suggest that his presence on the field is the key to success for the Thais. After all, the midfielder was absent in the 2018 edition and Thailand was knocked out in the semi-final.

The diminutive playmaker, dubbed “Messi Jay”, possesses exceptional vision, ball control and dribbling abilities that terrorise defenders, and his performances at the AFF Suzuki Cup often left spectators in awe and amazement. He was in devastating form during the most recent campaign with a tournament high of four goals, including two scintillating goals against Indonesia in the first leg of the finals, and led his team to reclaim their status as kings of Southeast Asia.

Teerasil Dangda (Thailand)

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2020, 2016

Just like Chanathip, Teerasil wrote his name into the record books after his showing in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020. Sharing the top scorer award with his teammate, Teerasil’s four goals saw the prolific marksman become the tournament’s all-time top scorer with 19 goals.

One of the most natural finishers to have played at the AFF Suzuki Cup, Teerasil was often lethal in front of goal. Since his first tournament appearance in 2008, he has taken home the Golden Boot four times, with his six goals in 2016 being his most productive campaign.

At the age of 33 during the 2020 edition, the veteran striker might have been in the twilight of his career, but he still played a pivotal role in the Thais’ title-winning run, with his experience, link up play and goal contributions.

Noh Alam Shah (Singapore)

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2007, 2004

While he has been dethroned as the tournament’s all-time top scorer after the 2020 edition, there are still two equally notable records to Noh Alam Shah’s name.

His 10 goals in the 2007 edition is still the highest total in a single tournament. Not to mention, his seven-goal haul, which included a sensational bicycle kick goal, against Laos remains as the most number of goals scored by one player in a single match. The striker also netted crucial goals in Singapore’s title-winning campaign in 2004. These remarkable feats are testament of the prolific striker’s impeccable goalscoring abilities and his importance to the Lions’ success during that period.

Alam Shah’s influence was not just in his goal tally. The Singapore football legend would draw frequent cheers from the fans at the AFF Suzuki Cup matches, not just with his goals, but also with his aggression and combative nature that epitomised his passion and hunger for success.

Safiq Rahim (Malaysia)

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion - 2010

Safiq Rahim became an instant icon for Malaysia after skippering his side to their first and, to date, only AFF Suzuki Cup title in 2010 on what was his debut campaign.

Despite his young age of 23 and supposed inexperience at the highest level, Safiq played an instrumental role in Malaysia’s triumphant campaign. The stylish midfielder was his team’s main creative outlet, capable of finding the right pass through the tightest of defences.

He was at his best once more in the 2014 edition. While Malaysia narrowly missed out on the title with a defeat to Thailand in the finals, the midfield maestro once again demonstrated his passing abilities and set piece prowess. He registered a tournament-high six goals – five of which were scored from set pieces, making him the first midfielder to have won the top scorer award in the AFF Suzuki Cup.

Bambang Pamungkas (Indonesia)

AFF Suzuki Cup Runner-up – 2010, 2002, 2000

Arguably the Garuda’s greatest player ever. Though he may not have achieved any silverware success as compared to the others on this list, Bambang Pamungkas was still an exceptional player on the pitch and his impressive goalscoring stats in the competition left a lasting impression.

Pamungkas made his AFF Suzuki Cup debut in 2000 and he quickly endeared himself to the passionate Indonesian fans with his goalscoring exploits paired with his humble nature. Between 2000 and 2012, the striker was his nation’s main goalscoring threat, netting in 12 goals across six tournament campaigns. His eight goals in 2002, which saw him winning the Golden Boot award, was his highest tally in a single campaign.

Le Cong Vinh (Vietnam)

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2008

Widely regarded as one of the greatest superstars of Vietnamese football, Le Cong Vinh’s achievements and moments in the AFF Suzuki Cup are nothing short of spectacular.

The legendary striker has 15 goals to his name and is the tournament’s joint third highest scorer. Amongst the goals include headline-grabbing hat-tricks against Cambodia and Laos in the 2004 and 2007 campaigns. In 2008, he also grabbed the winner in a 2-1 victory against Thailand in the first leg of the finals. However, these are most certainly incomparable to what he has proclaimed as “the most memorable goal of my career” – his injury-time header against Thailand in the return leg to secure Vietnam’s maiden AFF Suzuki Cup victory in 2008, perhaps still the most dramatic finale in AFF Suzuki Cup’s history.