Football was brought into Malaysia by its British colonial masters in the 19th century when it was known as Malaya. The first known regular competition took place in 1905 when the Selangor Amateur Football League was inaugurated.

The nation’s flagship club tournament, the Malaysia Cup, is the oldest ongoing football competition in Southeast Asia with its beginnings in 1921. Named after the British Royal Navy battleship HMS Malaya that went on a tour in the region in January that year, the first edition of the tournament (then known as the Malaya Cup) commenced in earnest.

The Malayan Football Association was first formed in 1926 so that it could field a combined team from various states against a visiting Australian side in a friendly. It was later renamed as Football Association of Malaya (subsequently its present name Football Association of Malaysia) in 1933 and became a member of the Asian Football Confederation and FIFA in 1956.

Malaysia emerged as a leading Asian side in the 1970s when they qualified for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, where they played against hosts West Germany in the group stage.

For several decades, Selangor were seen as the bastions of Malaysian club football alongside Pahang. The emergence of Johor Darul Ta’zim in the 2010s saw them become the pre-eminent side in the country as they made history as the first Malaysian club to win a continental trophy in the AFC Cup in 2015.  

Notable Football Legends

  • Mokhtar Dahari
  • Soh Chin Aun
  • Santokh Singh
  • Dollah Salleh
  • Zainal Abidin Hassan
  • Safiq Rahim
  • Aidil Zafuan
  • Safee Sali
  • Amri Yahyah

Notable Football Clubs

  • Selangor
  • Johor Darul Ta’zim
  • Pahang
  • Perak

Malaysia Men’s National Team International Successes

Southeast Asian Games Football Gold Medals (3, full national team until 1999): 1977, 1979 & 1989

AFF Championship Titles (1): 2010

Asian Games Football Best Finish (full national team until 1998): Bronze in 1974

AFC Asian Cup Appearances (3): 1976, 1980 & 2007 (all Group Stage)

Olympic Games Football Appearances (1, full national team until 1988): 1972 (Group Stage)

Malaysia Women’s National Team International Successes

Southeast Asian Games Football Best Finish: Silver in 1995

AFF Women’s Championship Best Finish: Fourth in 2007

AFC Women’s Asian Cup Best Finish: Third in 1983

Malaysia Men’s National Youth Team International Successes

Southeast Asian Games Football Gold Medals (2, Under-23 event since 2001): 2009 & 2011

Asian Games Football Best Finish (Under-23 event since 2002): Round of 16 in 2010 & 2018

AFF Under-23 Championship Best Finish: Fourth in 2005

AFC Under-23 Championship Appearances (1): 2018 (Quarter-finals)

FIFA Under-20 World Cup Appearances (1): 1997 (Group stage)

AFC Under-19 Championship Best Finish: Runners-up in 1959, 1960 & 1968

AFF Under-19 Championship Titles (1): 2018

AFC Under-16 Championship Best Finish: Quarter-finals in 2014

AFF Under-16 Championship Titles (2): 2013 & 2019

Malaysia Women’s National Youth Team International Successes

AFC Under-19 Women’s Championship Appearances (2): 2004 & 2006 (Both at Group Stage)

AFF Under-16 Women’s Championship Best Finish: Group Stage in 2009, 2017, 2018 & 2019  

Malaysia Men’s Club International Successes

Asian Club Championship (now AFC Champions League) runners-up: Selangor (1967)

AFC Cup Champions: Johor Darul Ta’zim (2015)