Nemanja Matic: Manchester United star won't wear poppy due to bombing memories

    Nemanja Matic (left) opted not to wear a poppy as Manchester United beat Bournemouth on Saturday.

    Story highlights

    • Matic opts not to wear poppy
    • Man Utd star says it reminds him of childhood attack

    (CNN)Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has explained isn't wearing a poppy on his shirt because it reminds him of his childhood when the former Yugoslavia was bombed in a NATO-air campaign that lasted 78 days in 1999.

    Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, English football teams' kits include a poppy on the center of their shirts. Poppies have long been used as a symbol to remember those killed in conflict, particularly during the two world wars that consumed Europe during the last century.
      On Saturday, the Serbian international drew attention by not wearing the emblem as Manchester United beat Bournemouth, receiving a barrage of abuse online.
      "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," wrote Matic on Instagram.
      "I recognize 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 Vrelo, as my country was devastated by the bombing of Serbia in 1999."
      NATO launched cruise missiles against the former Yugoslavia in 1999, following through on a long-standing threat to strike if Serbs refused to sign a US-drafted peace accord for Kosovo.