Fulham forward Manor Solomon recently told the story of how he escaped Ukraine during his time with Shakhtar Donetsk. The 23-year-old Israel international was still playing for the Ukrainian club when the Russian invasion began last year.
“I woke up to the sound of explosions and sirens,” Solomon told BBC Sport. “It was like being in the middle of a movie. Everyone was panicking because the war had started and didn’t know what to do. I knew I had to get away because it was going to get worse.”
“I was running out of food and water. There was nothing to buy,” he continued. “I managed to cross the border with the help of Israeli diplomats. If they hadn’t come I don’t know what would have happened to me.”
Starlet joined famed Shakhtar to advance his development
Solomon joined Shakhtar Donetsk from Israeli side Maccabi Petah Tikva in 2019. The talented attacking midfielder made the move to help further his career. Shakhtar is widely known for their development of young players. “I was 19 when I moved there [Ukraine],” Solomon said. “I wanted to leave Israel, develop as a player, and play in big European matches.”
The highly regarded youngster scored against Manchester City in just his fourth Champions League match for Shakhtar. He went on to play 28 total European games between the Champions League and Europa League for the club.
Despite his positive impact on Shakhtar, Solomon departed the country because of the war. News of a possible invasion began to increase in January of 2022. During this time, Shakhtar players traveled to Turkey to train. After returning to Ukraine, the club apparently told the team that there was little chance of an invasion. However, war soon broke out.
Fleeing to Poland
In the early stages of the invasion, Solomon managed to head for the Poland border by car. “After more than 15 hours of hard driving, the driver dropped me off near the border with Poland in the hope that I would be able to pass (young Ukrainian men are not allowed to leave the country),” stated Solomon.
“At the border there was great chaos and tens of thousands of people, women and men with families and crying babies standing with suitcases in freezing cold, with great uncertainty. I feel lucky I got out.”
Solomon was allowed to leave Shakhtar thanks to a ruling by FIFA. The law allowed non-Ukrainian players the opportunity to suspend their current contract for a year. Solomon joined Fulham in July on a one-year loan agreement.
Manor Solomon has five goals for Fulham in limited time
While he suffered a nasty knee injury after just one Premier League game, Solomon has been excellent since his return. In fact, the attacker managed to score in four-consecutive English top flight matches in recent weeks. His goal against Leeds in the FA Cup fifth round also helped take Fulham to the quarterfinals of the competition.
Solomon and Fulham will now face Manchester United on Sunday in the tournament. A win against the Red Devils gives Fulham the opportunity to play at Wembley Stadium.
The Israeli proclaimed that “playing for Fulham at Wembley would be a dream.”
PHOTO: IMAGO / Action Plus
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