Why one Russian fell in love with Sheffield United and the city as a whole

Yaroslav Matveev, one of the supporters responsible for running a website dedicated to promoting Sheffield United across Eurasia, has explained why he chose to follow Chris Wilder’s team after moving to England.

Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 5:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 6:08 pm

Yaroslav Matveev, who originally hails from Moscow, told The Star how the welcome he received on his first visit to Bramall Lane convinced him to not only become a Blade but also fall in love with the city as a whole.

“From my perspective, Sheffield United is an honest and sincere working class club,” Matveev, who provides content for the vk.com\sheffieldunited website, said. “I think that many people here have those qualities and that’s actually what attracts new supporters.”

The group - a community of like-minded fans from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine - was the brainchild of Vitaly Iskakov; a supporter from St Petersburg, who first began publishing news about United before their defeat in the 2012 League One play-off final.

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Yaroslav Matveev (third from right) says Sheffield United supporters are the best in the country

Eight years later, having twice been promoted since Wilder’s appointment in 2016, they were seventh in the Premier League table before competition was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Matveev, who is studying at Sheffield University, decided to produce both video and written material for Iskakov’s venture after adopting United. His experiences on match days are a reminder not only about what makes the club tick, but also about the power of football to help shape people’s lives.

“Sheffield United is a unique club which justifies its name,” Matveev told The Star. “Blades fans truly are the best in the country. When I started going to matches, I felt shy and strange. But the Blades fans made everything for me, even without knowing me well. They supported me and every time I meet ne fans, they are all so friendly and talkative. I can genuinely say that they are my family now.”

“Sheffield United is all about the people,” Matveev continued. “Even though the players are now playing against the best, they still remain ‘human’ if you like. They are our friends, our big family with whom we go through troubles and problems because we are all United.”

Yaroslav Matveev (left) with a fellow Sheffield United fan

The same, Matveev insisted, can be said for the city where he now lives.

“It is the perfect place to live. I think everyone can find something exciting in Sheffield. There are nice parks, museums and of course a whole variety of pubs and clubs without being as crowded as London or Birmingham.

“For me, the best thing about Sheffield though is that it is ‘united’ too. The people are helpful and friendly and I have made so many friends.

“I like the interconnectedness that people have here and of course, everything I love about it, can also relate to sport be that the Sheffield Steelers, Sheffield Sharks, Sheffield Hatters and of course Sheffield United.

“The players always get the support, love and understanding. In return, they give everything they have every single time they go on the pitch.”

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