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A Jewish ‘supersub’ is taking the Premier League by storm

The top league in European soccer has a new ‘King Solomon’

When Manor Solomon came off the bench at halftime on Friday with his team down a goal, it represented a kind of promotion for the 23-year-old Israeli winger. In Fulham’s previous two matches, Solomon had entered late and scored with just a few minutes to play. This time, he was getting the entire second half to work with.

It didn’t take him that long.

In the 64th minute, Solomon received a pass on the left wing, faced up a Wolverhampton defender, then pushed the ball hard to his right, darting ahead of the defender to chase it. He caught up to it just outside the penalty area, where he whipped a low, curling shot around two defenders and the goalie into the corner of the net. 

The gorgeous game-tying goal had Fulham fans in rapture, including one who was calling the super-substitute “Hamelech Solomon” — King Solomon. 

With the goal, Solomon became the first Israeli to score in three straight English Premier League games since Ronny Rosenthal did for Liverpool in 1992. More importantly, the draw kept Fulham on track for a top-6 finish in the league, which would qualify the West London-baed club for European competition — a remarkable achievement for a team that wasn’t even in the Premier League last year.

The trio of goals — his first three for Fulham — represents a stunning rise from the sidelines for the Kfar Saba native and son of Ashkenaz and Sephardic/Mizrahi Jewish parents, and the culmination of a harrowing 12-month journey. 

In three years and 70 appearances for Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk, Solomon made a name for himself as a giant-killer by scoring goals against Real Madrid and Manchester City. Last February, he was living in Kyiv when he awoke to the sound of Russian airstrikes. He fled to the border with Poland, from which he was whisked back to Israel. 

In August, after his first game as a Fulham loan signing, Solomon sustained a knee injury. He missed the next five months, nearly half the Premier League season.

With Solomon recovering, Fulham, which was promoted after winning the second-tier English Championship last year, made a surprising run up the Premier League table thanks to a breakout season from striker Aleksandar Mitrović. Just as Solomon returned to the lineup, Mitrovic got hurt. But Fulham hasn’t missed a beat. 

Instead, the 5-foot-6 Solomon’s quick feet and sure touch have breathed life into Fulham’s offense. His first three goals for the club have been as forceful as they were accurate.

Two weeks ago, with Nottingham Forest pushing late to tie the game, Solomon received the ball in the penalty area on a counter-attack. With the goalkeeper closing down on him, Solomon settled himself, then ripped a shot past him into the back of the net with his favored right foot, sealing the win.

The stakes were even higher last week against Brighton & Hove Albion, one of Fulham’s challengers for the top six. With the game scoreless in the 88th minute, the ball found Solomon in acres of space on the left side. With only one defender racing to cut off his path to the goal, Solomon kicked the ball several strides ahead, catching up to it deep in the penalty area. Somehow, with a narrow angle between him and the net, he smashed it with his left foot past the goalie and into the right corner.

“Astonishing!” the commentator gasped.

After Friday’s game, Solomon told reporters he was looking forward to his next promotion: to the starting lineup.

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