GUY MELAMED may have been locked in a hotel room for the past two weeks conducting his coronavirus self-isolation period. 

But the new St Johnstone striker insists he is ready to hit the ground running with his new team after clinching a “magic” move from Israel to Scotland

Melamed switched to McDiarmid Park on a one-year deal after leaving Maccabi Netanya this summer and he linked up with his new teammates for the first time this week. 

The Israeli frontman will be available for selection on Saturday as Saints take on Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership and the 27-year-old admits he can’t wait to get started. 

“I feel I am at my peak after good seasons in Israel and I am ready for a new challenge,” he told Herald and Times Sport. 

“I had offers from Portugal and Poland and from two big clubs in Israel. But there was something about Scotland that talked to me. I want to feel the magic here. 

“It has been great training with the guys. I was excited and I have missed it. Everybody has made me very welcome. 

“I think I am ready to play maybe 20 minutes as a substitute. But we have a fitness coach who knows better than me and he will advise the manager. 

“Players always want to play but the coach will be smart and time it right.” 

Melamed was sealed on a transfer to the Fair City of Perth after speaking to Celtic duo Nir Bitton and Hatem Abd Elhamed as well as Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano.  

On his chats with the Israeli trio, Melamed continued: “I didn’t know anything about St Johnstone until I looked on the website and saw they had finished sixth last season. 

“But I knew about Scotland from Nir Bitton, Hatem Abd Elhamed and Ofir Marciano. Israel is a small country, so everyone knows each other. I spoke to them and they all said it was a very good league.  

“Nir has been here a long time and he has been very successful at Celtic. He can be proud of himself. I see he has had the Covid and I hope he is well soon. 

“When I agreed to sign here I just wanted to get to Scotland quickly, even though I knew I would have to quarantine because of the virus. I was alone at the airport because there was a lockdown in Israel. 

“I had good offers from Europe before I had an injury. Blackburn Rovers offered me a contract. That didn’t work out. But I always wanted to play outside Israel and the timing now has been perfect. 

“It was strange signing for a new club and finding myself in a hotel room for two weeks. It has definitely been the strangest time of my career. 

"I watched a lot of Netflix and Israeli television channels and had PlayStation to pass the time.” 

Melamed also watched from his hotel room as Scotland defeated Israel in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final. 

“Of course I watched Scotland beat Israel on penalties in the Euro play-off,” he said. 

“That was disappointing but I hope Scotland beat Serbia because they are my second country now. I watched St Johnstone games as well and they look like a good team. 

“They defended very well against Celtic and were very disciplined until they lost two late goals and they scored five against Hamilton. It is good to be with a team that scores goals. That is good for confidence. 

“It will be a challenge getting a start with so much heathy competition and I am looking forward to the fight.” 

As Melemed alluded to, McDiarmid Park is his first stop outside of the Israeli Premier League after sticking to home soil throughout his career to date. 

And despite looking forward to a fresh challenge in a new league, he looks back fondly on his time in Israel where he registered an impressive goal scoring record.

“I won the league with Be’er Sheva and trained with the national team. Those were high points,” he explained.  

“At Maccabi Netanya we reached the cup final. We hadn’t been in the final for 40 years and I scored. But we lost on penalties. That was both the happiest and saddest day of my football career. 

“My last competitive game was three months ago but I played some friendlies before Covid closed things down.” 

It wasn’t all new faces for Melamed when he joined in training for the first time this week. 

The Ra'anana-born attacker recalled a freak poolside chat with Perth duo Callum Hendry and Liam Gordon during a summer Miami break. 

He said: “I remember seeing them playing with the ball in a swimming pool and we had a talk.  

“They said they were footballers in Scotland, but it wasn’t until I signed that I realised they played for St Johnstone. 

“Liam said he recognised me from the club’s photograph. It was crazy, such a small world. But they have helped me so much.”