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Indian IT consultant becomes idol to legions of football fans

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Jubilant Manchester United fans have celebrated Robin van Persie's astonishing hat trick by bombarding an Indian IT consultant with congratulatory tweets.

Despite a picture that clearly shows him to be a bespectacled middle-aged Indian man rather than the slick-haired striker, football fans have mistaken Ravi Visvesvaraya Sharada Prasad for their hero.

The confusion was sparked by Prasad's Twitter handle, @rvp, which has the same initials as the star Dutch footballer, who is also nicknamed RVP by fans and teammates.

He has now become something of a Twitter star, with a suspiciously large number of followers from Manchester.

The volume of tweets has become so large that Prasad has been forced to set the record straight. He received 10,000 mentions since Monday's game against Aston Villa - where the striker's hat-trick sealed Man Utd's 3-0 win over its rivals - and subsequently spent 10 hours blocking between 4,000 and 5,000 unwanted new followers.

When the sheer volume of misdirected congratulations became too much, Ravi eventually gave in and began humouring his new followers:

Now he wants van Persie to set the record straight.

"I'm a fan of Robin van Persie, so I understand people wanting to congratulate him, and most of the messages or mentions are nice," Prasad told the BBC.

"But it's a real nuisance for me. I keep having to tell everyone I'm not Robin van Persie and blocking unwanted followers.

I'd really like to meet him or get his autograph. But I'd like him to make it clear that my Twitter account isn't his - that it's a coincidence."

Van Persie - sorry, Prasad - clearly describes himself on the microblogging site as a "World Renowned Technocrat, Corporate Consultant & Columnist in Software, Telecom, InfoTech, Power, Nuclear, Defense", but this wasn't enough to fend off the hordes of happy Man U fans. Their team recently won the league after van Persie scored a hat trick against Aston Villa.

Even when Prasad tried to make it clear that he doesn't have anything in common with the Dutch footballer, avid fans continued to send him praise:

Another wrote:

The Indian consultant has been praised for the good natured way he has handled the attention. A self-described "Man Utd. fan and tech afionicado" tweeted:

Robin van Persie has not yet commented on his Indian Twitter namesake. ®

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