Friday 20 September 2019

Nemanja Matic explains why he won’t wear a poppy for the Manchester derby

Manchester United's Nemanja Matic wears a shirt without a remembrance poppy during the match on Saturday. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Manchester United's Nemanja Matic wears a shirt without a remembrance poppy during the match on Saturday. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Samuel Lovett

Nemanja Matic has said he won’t wear a poppy during this weekend’s Manchester derby, which falls on Remembrance Sunday, as it reminds him of the 1999 bombing of Serbia.

The bombing, which is believed to have killed between 489 and 528 civilians, was part of a Nato-led offensive during the Kosovo War.

Matic, who did not wear a poppy during Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Saturday, said he respected the right of people to wear poppies but revealed he would not be doing so this weekend.

In a statement released on Instagram, the Serbian said: “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.

“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 Sabac, 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.”

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