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Man U's Matic won’t wear poppy due to trauma of Serbia bombing

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LONDON: Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic said he cannot wear a red poppy to remember Britain's war dead because it reminds him of the trauma of a Nato bombing campaign on his home country.

The 30-year-old Serbian said he had worn the symbol in the past but would not do so this year. Matic was the only United player not to wear a poppy during the 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Saturday but said he hoped people would sympathise with his reasons.

"I have total sympathy for anyone who has lost loved ones due to conflict," said Matic, who received abuse on social media after the match.

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

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

Ireland winger James McClean is another player who has publicised his refusal to wear a poppy. He is a Roman Catholic from Derry, the Northern Irish city that came to the world's attention in 1972 during the Troubles when British soldiers shot dead 13 civilian protesters. A 14th person died later in hospital.

The 29-year-old Stoke City player labelled the Middlesbrough fans who taunted him at the second-tier Championship match on Saturday as "uneducated cavemen".

"Your abuse, your throwing things, your booing, do your worst... to the home fans that are actually educated and support me, thank you," he said on Instagram. - AFP

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