24-year-old, Murun Altankhuyag, a full international for the Mongolian national team, has signed a two-year professional contract with Thai Division 1 side, Krabi FC.
Born in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, Murun is the first professional footballer from the East Asian nation who are ranked 181st in the world in the latest Fifa rankings and 41st in AFC, making them the 6th lowest ranking Asian nation on the list.
Initially on trial at Division 2 side Rangsit FC, the forward then underwent preparation at Suphanburi FC in the Thai Premier League to acclimatise to the humid Southeast Asian climate. A brief try-out at Lao Toyota FC in Laos in early December also resulted in positive reviews from the team's officials and the offer of a professional contract, but Murun opted to join Krabi, having stated his preference to ply his trade in Thailand
"I'm very happy and proud of being the first Mognolian professional football player," said Murun after signing his contract at a press conference on Boxing Day.
"I dedicate this to my family, friends, teachers and all Mognolians who have supported me. I will play
very well in Krabi FC. I hope 65 million Thai people will be interested in Mongolia, my country."
Krabi FC President, Somkiat Kittidhrakul also hoped that the signing will spark a new relationship between the two nations.
"Murun is a very good player so that's why we signed a professional contract with Murun," he told reporters.
"This is the start of a good relationship between Krabi and Mongolia. I want many Mongolian people to support Krabi FC and Mongolian companies to be sponsor of Krabi FC."
Prior to his big move, Murun had spent his career with American college sides since 2009. He last turned out for Central Methodist Eagles of Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri, joining them from Hannibal–LaGrange University in 2010.
Murun's Japanese representative, Takashi Morimoto expressed his delight at finally finding a professional club for his client.
"I was looking for a chance for Murun for 2 years, it was not easy at all," he told Goal.
"Murun did his best in spite of his difficult situation. This is a big success not only for Murun but also all Mongolian people."
Krabi FC, based in the scenic tourist resort town of the same name, play in the second-tier of the Thailand Football League and have set a target of reaching the top flight for next season.