Manor Solomon making his mark in England

After challenging couple of years of war and injury, the Israeli star is finally rounding into form with Fulham.

 ISRAELI MIDFIELDER Manor Solomon celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal for Fulham in its 1-0 Premier League victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. (photo credit: MATTHEW CHILDS/REUTERS)
ISRAELI MIDFIELDER Manor Solomon celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal for Fulham in its 1-0 Premier League victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.

Manor Solomon has taken the English Premier League by storm.

The Israeli midfielder, who recently returned from being on the sidelines for a few months due to an injury, has made his mark on Fulham’s past two wins in fine fashion.

Last week, the 23-year old scored his debut goal in England and the club’s second marker coming off of the bench in a 2-0 Fulham victory over Nottingham Forest. This week, he did one better as he once again came in as a substitute against Brighton & Hove Albion and scored the late game-winner to bag another three points for Marco Silva’s squad.

Now, Solomon readies for a date with Wolves on Friday night as the hopes and dreams of Israeli soccer fans lie squarely on the his shoulders.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” an exuberant Solomon said following the Brighton game. “We had a very tough match against a very good rival so I am very happy that we were able to win. I am always happy to help the club. I asked for the ball, saw open space, ran until I saw I was in good position and shot the ball into the far corner. I’m happy that I was able to score.”

Manor Solomon (right) and Israel rallied back from deficits twice on the road in a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Iceland in UEFA Nations League action. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)Manor Solomon (right) and Israel rallied back from deficits twice on the road in a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Iceland in UEFA Nations League action. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

An unexpected outburst

No one expected this type of outburst in such a short period of time as the dailies and talk shows have all been “kvelling” about Solomon.

Following his first goal last week in a home tilt at Craven Cottage, emotions were running high.

“I’m really happy that I scored and I waited for this moment for a long time. We played really well and we had a lot of opportunities. I’m happy that I was able to help. When the ball went into the goal it was the most incredible feeling. My last goal was this past June with the Israel National Team. I was injured for some time and I am happy that I was able to score as I waited a long time for this.”

Two for two in his last two is just what the doctor had ordered for Solomon as the fans sang his name to their hearts’ delight, which is something that he will never, ever forget.

“The fans were amazing,” Solomon said. “My first goal for Fulham and in England. I dreamed of this moment and I am happy that it happened. I can’t wait to score and assist on more goals. I decided this summer to join Fulham as I knew the plans that were going to be in place. We have a dominant team and we can look at every one of our opponents in the white of their eyes. We showed our quality and strength.”

Silva was thrilled about Solomon’s performances and hopes that this is the sign of even better things to come.

“This was a very important goal for us. We didn’t have a lot of luck in 2022. I know him well and I know that he had a tough year and not just because of the injury. He has quality and needs more time to continue to train and improve.

“He deserves all the credit. It was a great finish for him and another great moment for us. Everyone thought he would go in and finish with his right foot, but he did the opposite. He is improving more and more and he deserves all the best because 2022 was very tough for him both on and off of the pitch. He is helping us score goals and he loves the Premier League.”

Solomon arrived on Loan from Shakhtar

Solomon arrived at Fulham over this past summer in a highly anticipated loan move from Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk as hopes were high that the winger would show the football world why he had been touted as the heir apparent to Israel’s last successful Premier League player, Yossi Benayoun.

After making his debut in early August against Liverpool, Solomon suffered a knee injury during a training match that kept him out of action for five months and finally made his return to the pitch in January 2023 as the page was turned on a difficult 2022 for the Kfar Saba native.

Solomon, who grew up in the Maccabi Petah Tikva youth system was sold to Shakhtar during the winter transfer window in January 2019 and went on to score 16 goals in 70 appearances, including some memorable strikes in Champions League against Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid. As 2021 turned into 2022, there was much talk surrounding Solomon’s future and how much he wanted to ply his trade in England, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 those talks ratcheted up even more.

However, first Solomon had to make a daring escape from Ukraine to Poland and then back to his native Israel in what was a very harrowing few days.

Following a number of appearances with the Israel National Team, which included a two-goal performance in a 2-1 win over Albania, the loan deal was made to send Solomon to Fulham. While he had to wait patiently to return to action and then for his turn to make an impact, he’s thrilled to finally have that opportunity.

“2022 was the most difficult year of my life,” Solomon stated. “It began in Ukraine and then I was injured. But I know that 2023 will be much better and I am happy that I have been able to play and enjoy the game once again. When the ball went in all I thought about was the challenges that I had gone through the past year.”

“2022 was the most difficult year of my life.”

Manor Salomon

One of the people who was closest to Solomon during his time at Shakhtar was his head coach, Roberto Ze Serbi, who was in charge last season. Now Ze Serbi is the bench boss at Brighton & Hove Albion and saw first-hand what his former pupil had done to his team.

“I’m upset about the result but happy for him,” said the coach. “We were together in Ukraine for seven months, a very bad period of time that we will remember for the rest of our lives. During the game he is my rival, but afterwards he is my friend and my player. I can never forget the past.”

Solomon also spoke about his relationship with the Italian.

“I had a good relationship with the coach and we went through a lot in Ukraine. I have a lot of friends from my time there and he is a top coach. It was great to see him and I want to wish him all the best going forward.”

Now the talk is all about Solomon getting an opportunity to be a part of the starting lineup, especially after his two wonder goals which has left many fans thirsting for more, but the Israeli doesn’t want to put the cart before the horse.

“Any time that I am on the bench I always want to be on the pitch and help out the team. When Nottingham began to press I saw that we had more open space to attack and we began to control the ball and move forward. I felt that I had a good chance to score. We knew that we had to win and we’re happy that we did just that.”

The Israeli also put his playing time with Fulham into perspective and noted he is happy to play whatever role he is asked to.

“Every player wants to start. but we can’t forget that I came back from an injury just two months ago and the team had been in good shape. I have to get my confidence back through the minutes that I am playing and I hope that I will get a starting role. Whatever the coach tells me to do, I will. Everything is for the good of the club.”