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Nemanja Matic: Manchester United star on why he’s not wearing a poppy

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Nemanja Matic poppy-less for Manchester United versus Bournemouth.
Nemanja Matic poppy-less for Manchester United versus Bournemouth.
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Defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic has opened up about being the only Manchester United star not to wear a poppy.

Britons wear paper replicas of the flower around Remembrance Day (November 11) to honour the dead from World War I and subsequent conflicts.

Serbian Matic revealed he did not wear a poppy during Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat of Bournemouth because of a childhood experience.

The 30-year-old said poppies spark memories of an attack on a Serbian village that he experienced as a boy.

“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.”

The bombing in 1999 was part of a NATO-led offensive to drive out Serbian forces from Kosovo.