Man Utd star Matic explains reasons behind not wearing a poppy

The Serbia international midfielder has given his reasons on social media for not wearing the symbol ahead of Remembrance Sunday

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has explained his reasons for declining to wear a poppy on his shirt. 

The 30-year-old opened up on social media about his experiences as a child in his native Serbia ahead of the Manchester Derby on Remembrance Sunday.

Matic explained that, while he has worn the poppy in the past, he has changed his mind upon reflection, but was keen to avoid offence.

“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,” he 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.”

Matic’s admission comes amid the backdrop of Stoke City winger’s James McClean’s decision to again not have a poppy adorn his shirt.

Despite the Republic of Ireland international releasing a statement to explain his reasoning behind requesting the symbol not be placed on his shirt, he has continued to receive criticism from football fans around the country.

That bubbled over on Saturday as the Potters hosted Middlesbrough, with footage showing a number of fans hailing abuse at McClean as he left the field.

McClean responded on social media, calling the individuals involved “uneducated cavemen”, though the Football Association are now reportedly set to open an investigation into his remarks.

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Matic and United, meanwhile, face a trip to Juventus on Wednesday as the Red Devils seek three consecutive wins in all competitions.