Nemanja Matic

UTD Podcast: Matic explains why players must give back

Monday 31 August 2020 08:00

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has spoken passionately about footballers giving back to their local communities, having grown up in challenging conditions in Serbia.

The 32-year-old is immensely proud of his country and speaks warmly about his hometown of Sabac, yet he knows that improvements can be made and particularly for young children there today. 

During his episode of UTD Podcast, Matic talks about his own tough upbringing in Serbia and shockingly reveals how his school did not have toilet facilities, forcing the pupils to go into the woods instead. 

Nemanja’s formative years were also spent playing football on a gritty pitch next to a cemetery and, as the gentle giant points out, his help can ensure the next generation doesn’t see such hardship. 

“I don’t like to speak about my charity, my help, mostly for the kids,” explains Nemanja. “When I grew up I didn’t have the pitch to train on, the pitch was horrible - next to the cemetery. That was not a pitch, they just put the goals and the lines there and they called it a pitch!
UTD Podcast: When Matic won Goal of the Season Video

UTD Podcast: When Matic won Goal of the Season

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“So I wanted to make a good pitch for kids, so that they can train, that they can improve. If someone wants to play football then they have good conditions. 

“And of course I wanted to help the school, it is most important to have a good school. When I was in school we did not even have a toilet in the school. You had to go outside somewhere in the forest! 

“I felt like it is my obligation because the kids there, they deserve to have better conditions for everything, for school, for training and a playground for small kids. So I try to help them. 

“I will do that because I can. We have to be honest, at United, Chelsea or Arsenal for example, we earn a lot of money and some of that money we need to spend for the future, because many of those kids will be future stars and they have to do the same one day.”
Matic is currently preparing for his fourth season as a United player and, as we revealed on Saturday night, the tough-tackling midfielder feels confident about challenging for the Premier League title.

Nemanja hopes this campaign will be his best so far and he knows it will be followed closely by the club’s passionate fanbase in Serbia, where only two other teams have more supporters in his opinion. 

“I have to be honest and say United in Serbia is very popular,” Matic explains. “It is probably, after Red Star and Partizan, the third club. If you look at how many supporters they have, Red Star is number one, Partizan is second and United is third. 

“I always liked United especially when Nemanja Vidic was playing here. He is from Serbia, he lives not far from my house in West Serbia, so we always supported him. 

“When I got the opportunity to come here I wanted to play for United, for probably the biggest club in England and one of the best clubs in the world. We can say maybe Real Madrid, Manchester United and maybe Bayern Munich. For me that’s the three biggest clubs in the world.” 

“It was easy to make the decision. I don’t want to say that I was not happy at Chelsea, of course I was happy, but I thought it was the right time to move. As I said, when you get the chance to go and play for Manchester United I think that you have to use that.”

Elsewhere in his UTD Podcast, which is available in full from 17:00 BST on Monday, Matic explains his love for playing at Old Trafford and says our stadium has something different to other venues.

“To play at Old Trafford, if you play for United or you play for other teams, it is always special,” Nemanja states. “When you step on the pitch, for me it is the best stadium in the world. You can see it has some history. It has something different to other stadiums. 

“I have to say Tottenham’s new stadium is great. A lot of new stadiums, they look good, but Old Trafford has something different and I hope that they can keep it like that. It is always special. 

“For me, when I played against United for Benfica or for Chelsea, it was always good motivation. It was always high because you want to do your best against United to show your quality. So I know exactly how the other teams feel when they play against us, especially at Old Trafford. 

“That’s why we need to know that they will always give their best. They want to show their quality, and their motivation against us is always bigger then when they play against other clubs.” 

Get ready for next season. Our 2020/21 home and away kits are available now from United Direct.