There has been no shortage of midfield maestros on display in the AFF Suzuki Cup over the years with some of Southeast Asia’s finest players plying their trade in the middle of park or out wide. Here’s a selection of six of the best to grace the competition. Vote for your favourite below!

Honourable Mentions

Bima Sakti (Indonesia), Yan Aung Kyaw (Myanmar), Hariss Harun (Singapore) Therdsak Chaiman (Thailand), Ngo Hoang Thinh (Vietnam)

1. Chanathip Songkrasin

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2016, 2014

Chanathip Songkrasin has developed into the hottest property in Southeast Asian football in recent years, and the attacking midfielder has shown just why in the past two editions of the tournament.

Part of the 2012 Suzuki Cup squad, Chanathip truly announced himself two years later, scoring in the semi-final and final as he was named MVP and Thailand won their first title since 2002.

In 2016, his creative flair was on display once more as the War Elephants defended their title and “Messi Jay” became the first player to win back-to-back MVP awards.

Chanathip’s scintillating skills earned him a move Japan with Consadole Sapporo, where he has impressed his new employers in his first 12 months in the J.League.

2. Shahril Ishak (Singapore)

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2012, 2007, 2004

With more than 130 caps to his name, Shahril Ishak has established himself as a Lions great, while he is among the most decorated players at the AFF Suzuki Cup.

At just 20, he scored a crucial semi-final goal against Myanmar as Singapore lifted the trophy on what was Ishak’s debut campaign, before he was a key part of the side that won the 2007 title.

Now in his prime, the 2012 edition saw the midfielder at his finest when, as captain, he netted four group stage goals before eventually leading his team to glory in the final against Thailand.

Ishak’s third ASEAN title culminated in him being named the tournament’s MVP, while in 2016 he made his seventh Suzuki Cup appearance. 

3. Safiq Rahim (Malaysia)

AFF Suzuki Cup Champion – 2010

Safiq Rahim was just 23 years of age when he captained a youthful Malaysia side to their first and, to date, only AFF Suzuki Cup title on what was his debut campaign.

Following a slow start, Malaysia advanced to the final, where Safiq skippered his country to a 3-0 first leg win over Indonesia, before lifting the title after a 2-1 defeat in the second leg.

A stylish midfielder with an eye for goal, Safiq was at his best once more in the 2014 edition, netting in four games in a row as Malaysia reached the final.

Two more goals in the second leg of the final against Thailand was enough for him to pick up the top scorer award, although Malaysia narrowly missed out on the title.

4. Firman Utina (Indonesia)

AFF Suzuki Cup Runner-up – 2010, 2004

An attacking midfielder with defence-splitting vision and the ability to take on the opposition rearguard, Firman Utina is arguably one of the best players to have never won the Suzuki Cup.

The playmaker had an international career spanning 14 years, first being called into Indonesia’s Suzuki Cup squad in the 2004 campaign, before scoring his first goal in the competition in 2008.

Two years later Utina shone brightest, scoring twice in the group stage before Indonesia advanced to a fourth final. Malaysia won but the midfielder became the Garuda’s first and, to date, only MVP.

Utina returned for his tournament swansong in 2014 but Indonesia exited at the group stage.

5. Nguyen Hong Son (Vietnam) 

AFF Suzuki Cup Runner-up – 1998

A star of the early years of the competition, Nguyen Hong Son appeared in the very first edition, scoring twice as Vietnam eventually finished third.

Two years later and Hong Son returned in even better form, with his winner over Malaysia in the group stage ousting the Malaysians and securing a second successive semi-final appearance.

Another goal in a 3-0 win over Thailand helped seal Vietnam's first appearance in the final, where Singapore ran out 1-0 winners but Hong Son was named MVP after his superb performances.

Two more goals in 2000 saw the midfielder score for the third edition running as Vietnam again reached the last four, before Hong Son retired from international duty in 2001. 

6. Chris Greatwich (Philippines)

AFF Suzuki Cup Semi-finalist – 2014, 2012, 2010

Having been part of the Philippines squad for the 2004 and 2007 editions, Chris Greatwich (above, right) was a mainstay in the side by the time the Azkals’ historic 2010 campaign rolled round.

Trailing 1-0 to Singapore, the midfielder levelled deep into stoppage time to claim a valuable point, before he opened the scoring in a stunning 2-0 victory over holders Vietnam in Hanoi.

After six group stage eliminations, the Philippines advanced to the semi-finals for the first time, where they were narrowly beaten by Indonesia in both legs.

Greatwich, who is now assistant coach for the national team, was part of the 2012 and 2014 squads that also reached the last four in the Azkals’ most successful period in the competition.  

Photos: Getty Images