Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic will not wear poppy due to bombing of Serbia

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Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has said he will not wear a Remembrance poppy on his shirt because it is a reminder of bombing on his homeland of Serbia.

The 30-year-old was the only United player not to have a poppy embroidered on his shirt for the 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday.

He will not wear one for the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium, which takes places on Remembrance Sunday, and explained he has come to the decision after experiencing the 1999 offensive to drive Serbian forces out of Kosovo.

“I recognise fully why people wear poppies, I totally respect everyone’s right to do so and I have total sympathy for anyone who has lost loved ones due to conflict,” Matic wrote on Instagram.

“However, for me it is only a reminder of an attack that I felt personally as a young, frightened 12-year old boy living in Vrelo, as my country was devastated by the bombing of Serbia in 1999.

“Whilst I have done so previously, on reflection I now don’t feel it is right for me to wear the poppy on my shirt. I do not want to undermine the poppy as a symbol of pride within Britain or offend anyone, however, we are all a product of our own upbringing and this is a personal choice for the reasons outlined.

“I hope everyone understands my reasons now that I have explained them and I can concentrate on helping the team in the games that lie ahead.”

Stoke midfielder James McClean was abused by sections of home fans during their 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough because of his decision not to wear a poppy on his shirt.

Republic of Ireland international McClean is from Derry, where British soldiers shot dead 13 protestors during Bloody Sunday in 1972.

The FA are also investigating a post on social media where McClean described the Stoke fans who abused him as he left the pitch as “uneducated cavemen”.

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