FZY Mazkir Jack Isaacs analyses tricky Israeli winger Manor Solomon's recent performances and celebrates his achievements in the Premier League.
Manor Solomon, who joined Fulham on loan from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk last summer, was nominated for the English Premier League’s Player of the month award for February, but has an Israeli achieved this feat before?
The answer is no- but it was a month where Israeli footballers have been noticed on the world stage. Solomon became the 17th Israeli to play in the Premier League since its inception in 1992 and is arguably having the biggest impact of an Israeli star on these shores since Yossi Benayoun, who played for West Ham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal respectively.
Solomon has been an up-and-coming talent for many years, playing for Ukrainian champions Shakhtar between 2019-2022 after starting his career at Maccabi Petah Tikva. He scored his first goal in the UEFA Champions League at the age of 20 and also scored against Premier League Champions Manchester City in the same competition.
So why is he big news in England right now? Having missed 5 months of the season due to a knee injury, he returned to Fulham in January and hasn’t looked back since. February saw him score in 4 consecutive matches in all competitions, including in 3 Premier League games, becoming the first Israeli to do so since Ronnie Rosenthal for Liverpool in 1992. His goals haven’t been lucky either, scoring with great strikes in a draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers, with a late winner at Brighton and in an FA Cup victory against Leeds United. This run of consecutive goals continued into March, when Solomon scored in a 3-2 defeat to Brentford.
Could this prove to be a turning point in Israeli football? Solomon’s antics have come in the same season that an Israeli club team appeared in the group stage of Europe’s premier club competition since 2010-11, the sixth time in history. Maccabi Haifa were placed in a group with European heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Benfica and despite losing 5 out of 6 games did not disgrace themselves. A famous victory over Italian giants Juventus and taking the lead against PSG, who boasted the world’s greatest ever player, Lionel Messi, as well as stars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, are achievements that not only the club from northern Israel can be proud of but the entire nation.
This spark in club football and having a genuine star in Manor Solomon could see Israel return to the big stage on the football front. Having not qualified for a major tournament the 1970 FIFA World Cup, Israel face Switzerland, Romania, Kosovo, Belarus and Andorra in the qualification stage for Euro 2024 in Germany. Given the rise of Israeli football seen recently and the favourable opposition in qualifying, there’s a real possibility for us to see Manor Solomon and his national team play at a major tournament together in the not-too-distant future.