The Manchester United squad comprises 13 different nationalities, but how much do you know about the places our overseas stars come from?
Our ‘My Home Country’ series continues with Nemanja Matic, who explains what makes him proud to be Serbian, recommends places United fans should visit and describes what the local food is like…
What makes you proud to be Serbian?
“We have many good things. It’s difficult to choose one but I think the people there are proud and I like the way they react when tourists come to Serbia. They always welcome everyone. So, yes, there are a lot of good people there and I’m very proud of that.
Where is the best place to visit in Serbia?
“Serbia is very historical. Belgrade is, for me, one of the best cities in Europe so there are a lot of things to see because it’s very historical and I have a lot of stories about Belgrade, and Serbia obviously. You have to visit the mountains in Serbia, especially in the winter and go skiing there. In the summer, Belgrade’s night life is amazing with a lot of good restaurants, and live music is everywhere in the summer. So, in the winter go to the mountains, in the summer go to Belgrade!”
Who are Serbia’s greatest footballers and athletes?
“Footballers – we have, not many, but maybe five or six who played at the top level which a long, long time ago was players like Dragoslav Sekularac and Dragan Dzajic. In the last few years, we have had Nemanja Vidic, Dejan Stankovic, Branislav Ivanovic and Aleksandar Kolarov. From other sports, Novak Djokovic is the best tennis player at the moment, Milorad Cavic is the best swimmer and, in the other sports, we have water polo – Serbia was many times the champions of Europe and the world. In handball and basketball, we have many great players and it’s difficult now to say all of their names!”
What was it like growing up in Serbia?
“It was great. I grew up in a small village which had one and a half thousand people and I had freedom. When I was five years old, I used to go along the street and in the park to play football with my friends, which is not the case today. Today, parents need to be with their kids all the time, but I had that freedom to go everywhere in the village without parents. I left the house in the morning and then I came back in the evening, so it was amazing. All day we were playing basketball, football, handball, everything, so it was good. I really enjoyed it and I always remember that part of my life as the best.”
What was the name of the village?
“Vrelo – it’s a very small village.”
You must be the most famous man from Vrelo?
“I think so!” [laughs]
What does typical Serbian cuisine consist of?
“In Serbia, we eat a lot of meat every day, and a lot of bread. We barbecue. Meat is every day, everywhere in Serbia. I grew up eating only meat.”
You’re very lean, so how did you maintain that?
“I don’t know! [laughs] I think it’s just my DNA. My whole family are like this.”
Do you have to watch what you eat when you go home?
“To be honest, when I go on holiday, I go home weighing 86 or 87 kilos and then I come back with three kilos less. I don’t know how – maybe because of muscles. I don’t train there at home and I don’t have problems with my body weight.”
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