LAST_UPDATEMon, 21 May 2018 7pm

Malaysia's 25 Greatest MODERN-DAY Footballers

LAST week Malaysian Digest featured an article on the ‘25 Greatest Malaysian Footballers Of All-Time’ (read here) which was based on a list made by FourFourTwo. Sure, the list was a lot of fun and all but let’s face it, not many people recognise the majority of the players on that list. We felt that when we first read it, and the feedback from our readers confirmed it.

Most of the footballers in that top 25 list played during the 60s and 70s, and some even before that! Even if readers have heard those footballers’ names before, I very much doubt that many have seen them play before. We don’t have a lot of archived footage from that era to introduce the younger fans to those footballing greats. Plus, it isn’t really a spoiler to find out who came out at top position. Everyone knew it had to be Mokhtar Dahari.

So we at Malaysian Digest decided to create a list that is more relatable towards today’s audience. Here we present you with ‘Malaysia’s 25 Greatest MODERN-DAY Footballers’. The criteria to making it into this list? He has to be Malaysian who has played after the 1990s. Here’s the list, do you agree? Who would you have in your Top 25?

25) Ramles Sari

This speedster played for Sarawak alongside his twin brother Ramos Sari. Fans of the ‘Ngap Sayot’ team view him as a legend, and rightly so. He is that good.

24) A. Jayakanthan

Jayakanthan made the position of left wing-back his own, both for the national team and while playing for Selangor. He was part of the Red Giants team that won the inaugural Malaysian Semi-Pro League, while at international level he has played at the Asian Games, SEA Games, and the Merdeka Cup.

23) Norhafiz Zamani Misbah

Although not the biggest of defenders, he is certainly one of the best this country has produced. While representing the country in a friendly match against Birmingham City, he was singled out by the manager of the English club, Steve Bruce, as the player who impressed him the most.

22) Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli

Akmal in his youth was seen as a prodigy. The nation had high hopes for him. At 17-years old he had a stint playing for French teams RC Strasbourg and FCSR Haguenau. However he never fulfilled his huge potential. After playing for a few local teams, the striker is now plying his trades with Sarawak.

21) Radhi Mat Din

Radhi was team captain during one of Kedah’s most successful period in Malaysian football. The no-nonsense midfielder helped the northern state team to reach six Malaysia Cup finals in seven years, taking home the trophy twice.

20) Nizam Adzha Yusof

This former Perak and Kedah attacker has delighted fans with his nifty skills throughout the 90s. Former Selangor goalkeeper Karel Stromsik  once described him as ‘the best freekick taker in Malaysia’.

19) Lim Teong Kim

Lim was one of the few Malaysian players to have played in Europe. He spent one season with German side, Hertha Berlin, while also playing for local sides Kuala Lumpur and Kedah. But perhaps what we can be most proud of is the fact that he was coach of Bayern Munich’s youth team from 2001 until 2013. Among the players who worked under him during that time include World Cup winners Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

18) Azizul Kamaluddin

Pahang fans will know this pony-tailed striker well. During the 90s, he was one of the most prolific stikers in the country and even won the Golden Boot Award in the year 2000.

17) Khairul Fahmi Che Mat

Khairul Fahmi is one of the most recognisable players in the current national team. This goalkeeper who is widely known as ‘Apek’ has tasted tremendous success both at international level and with his local team Kelantan. Seeing he is still only 25-years old, we can look forward to plenty more from him.

16) Rusdi Suparman

Being lightning-fast stiker, Rusdi was part of the hugely successful Selangor team of the 90s. He played the national team over 41 times and managed to score 19 goals. He is currently the assistant coach to Harimau Muda A.

15) B. Rajinikand

One of the finest defenders this country has produced. Strong in the tackle and solid in the air, he has also been team captain for Malaysia, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor.

14) Yap Wai Loon

Tiny in size, but Yap was a great midfielder. He played his local football with Kuala Lumpur and Sabah, while also dazzling when donning the national colours. After a friendly match against English club, Arsenal, he was praised by legendary opposing manager Arsene Wenger as among the two Malaysian players that impressed him (the other player to be praised was Azman Adnan).

13) Badri Radzhi

Better known as ‘Piya’, this midfielder has captained Kelantan to their dominance of Malaysian football during this past few years. Extremely skilful, the only reason Piya is not higher in the list is because of his lack of international appearances.

12) Khalid Jamlus

Khalid first gained recognition while playing for Malaysia’s ‘Project Olympic 2000’ team. The striker since then has banged in goals for Perak, Selangor, Kelantan, and ATM before retiring a few years ago.

11) Safee Sali

Safee became a household name when Malaysia won the 2010 AFF Cup. The striker was an integral part of that success as he became the tournament’s top goal scorer. After playing for Sarawak and Selangor, he gained further fame after playing for Indonesian club Pelita Jaya. He now plays for newly crowned M-League champions, JDT.

10) Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak

Of the current batch of national footballers, Aidil is the one who is generally recognised as being a celebrity. People are just as interested in his private life and his performances on the field. He led JDT to the league title and is Malaysia’s current skipper. Hopes are on this defender for the nation to bring back the AFF Cup this year.

9) Hairuddin Omar

One of the most celebrated football players in the country. Hairuddin has won trophies while playing for Terengganu, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan, and ATM. He also represented Malaysia and scored a memorable goal against English side Chelsea in 2003. He jumped high above John Terry to score a header back on that day. Not many players in the world can claim to have done that.

8) Safiq Rahim

Safiq isn’t the most popular player around, mainly because people viewed previous national coach, K. Rajagopal performing favouritism towards Safiq. Even when he was terribly out of form, he was still picked in the national side ahead of better performing players such as Badri Radzi. But in Safiq’s defence, he has captained Malaysia to win trophies, which is something that we haven’t managed to do for over two decades. He has also scored outstanding goals against Liverpool and South Korea. Plus, he has returned to form this season, while helping JDT win the Super League.

7) K. Sanbagamaran

Sanbagmaran first made a name for himself as an attacking midfielder for Selangor and Malaysia. He became the nation’s top goal scorer at the 1996 AFF Cup. Later on his career he switched position to being a left back where he kept on winning trophies for Selangor.

6) Azman Adnan

Azman is my personal football idol. When I was younger, everyone I played football with either wanted to be Azman Adnan or Eric Cantona. He was one of the most skilful strikers around and could score goals by going on solo dribbles from the middle of the pitch. He was deadly every time he turned out for his team, whether it was Selangor, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, or Negeri Sembilan.

5) Khairul Azman Mohamad

The tall and pony-tailed Khairul Azman was once considered the best goal keeper in Asia. No joke! The former Pahang and Sabah player also had quite a personality, often times playing mind games with opposition players who were taking penalty kicks.

4) Matlan Marjan

If you’ve never heard of Matlan Marjan, then this is what you need to know: In 1991, Malaysia faced a strong England side, and Matlan scored two goals (see video) below:

3) Amri Yahya

One goal against Barcelona and two goals against Manchester United. Any European player would be proud to have that sort of accomplishment. Amri has actually done both!

2) Dollah Salleh

Dollah Salleh is the current national team coach after having huge success helming Pahang, PDRM, Selangor, and MPPJ. But he was extremely successful as a player too. He won loads of trophies playing for various teams in the Malaysian league. On the international stage he won the 1989 SEA Games gold medal and also the 1993 Merdeka Tournament, where he scored in the final as Malaysia defeated South Korea 3-1.

1) Zainal Abidin Hassan

Remember that article of Greatest Malaysian Footballers of All-Time that we mentioned earlier. Well Zainal is the only modern-day player who made that list. He has tasted enormous success both locally and internationally, whether he was playing as a defender or as a striker. At the 1996 AFF Cup, he represented Malaysia and came back as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP)



- mD