The Making of Manor Solomon

In Manor Solomon’s native Hebrew, ‘Manor’ means a ‘boom’ (sailing) which is precisely what he’s enjoying during his first injury-free month of football in England. In Solomon’s last four games for Fulham, he has scored four goals including one matchwinner and an equaliser. He also scored two exceptional goals against Wolverhampton and Leeds which were so similar, you would quickly be forgiven for thinking they were carbon copies of one another. 

Solomon’s talent was evident from the beginning. Every youth department coach spoke about a player that trained hard to enhance his already remarkable skills. Lots of it was thanks to the support of his parents. His father, who works as a fitness coach, encouraged Solomon to constantly be in better shape than his teammates.

Whilst developing himself in the Maccabi Petah Tikva first team set-up, Solomon had to enlist in the Israeli army. Every Israeli player needs to fulfil an obligatory service period in the military. The rule is, players cannot leave Israel for a long-term contract, and must complete a certain time quota of service. Yet, there is one exception to the rule – if a player is already part of the senior national team, and has an offer from a team in a highly-ranked nation, a shortened service period or even a full exemption may be permitted.

In 2018, Solomon, already drafted, split his time between his football career and the Israeli Defence Force. He remained patient and gained more experience in the first team. In September 2018, he made his first appearance for Israel’s national team, making him eligible for an exemption from service. 

His transfer followed quickly in January 2019. The decision was to move to a club that could act as a stepping stone for the talented youngster and therefore Solomon moved to Donetsk in Ukraine to join Shakhtar. 

The transition to life in Ukraine was not without its difficulties. Solomon struggled to adapt to life in a new country, with a different language and culture. He also faced stiff competition for a place in the team, with several other talented wingers, such as now Premier League starlets Tete and Mkyhailo Mudryk, vying for a spot in the starting lineup. He worked hard in training and gradually earned the trust of his coach and teammates.

Solomon eventually became an integral part of the Shakhtar Donetsk team. He scored several substantial goals for the club, including memorable strikes in the Champions League against Real Madrid and Manchester City. 

However, in February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine which put a halt to all football and put Solomon at risk. He managed to escape the country, travelling to the Polish frontier and boarding a flight to Israel where he remained for the next few months. 

Solomon’s transfer to Fulham was long-winded and uneasy. Fulham had come close to agreeing to a €‎7.5 million fee to sign him, only for that bid to be retracted once FIFA stated that Ukrainian-based foreign players could discontinue their contracts for a year and sign elsewhere without charge. Solomon was enlisted as a Fulham player on August 1 on, effectively, a year-long loan.

Upon moving to West London, Solomon got injured and spent the first six months of his Premier League career sidelined. Since the turn of the year, he has gradually returned to action and his minutes have increased. On the 11th of February, Solomon cooly finished against Nottingham Forest to complete a convincing win. 

“It is an amazing feeling, especially after what I have been through,” he said. “I have been waiting for this moment, this goal, for a long time.”

Manor Solomon after his first goal for Fulham

He’s continued to shine ever since and is starting to grab the attention of football fans nationwide. His mazy dribbling, tenacious attitude and ruthless finishing have rapidly made him a hit at Craven Cottage. He’s the first Israeli to score in three consecutive Premier League fixtures since Ronny Rosenthal in 1992. 

Solomon is the first Israeli and the first Jewish player to play top-flight English football for ten years. He is flying the flag for Israel alongside other bright young talents such as Liel Abada and Oskar Gloukh. With a favourable draw in the European Championships Qualifiers, Solomon will be expected to lead the line for Israel and bring them their first qualification for a major tournament. If he continues to play as well as he has been playing for Fulham, Israel is in with a real chance.

By Nicky Helfgott

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