Twitter: The @rvp who is not Robin van Persie

Composite image showing Robin van Persie and Ravi Visvesvaraya Sharada Prasad

Over-excited Manchester United fans hoping to congratulate hat-trick hero Robin van Persie have inadvertently bombarded a 52-year-old IT consultant in India with Twitter messages. It's a classic case of mistaken identity.

Ravi Visvesvaraya Sharada Prasad isn't used to being a star.

But a cursory look at his Twitter handle over the last 24 hours shows he has - at least on Twitter - become one.

"Congrats @rvp!!" is one tweet. "@rvp You really made the difference for us this season, well done," is another.

"Great scenes as @RVP celebrates winning his first title at United... Well done mate" and "@rvp hey Robin, that was a fantastic hat trick...can you send me a shirt please," are others.

It's not difficult to see how the mix-up came about.

Robin van Persie's correct Twitter handle - @Persie_Official - may have the word "Official" in the title, but the 52-year-old software and communications consultant's handle - @rvp - has the 29-year-old football star's initials. Fans often refer to the Dutchman as "rvp".

Then there's the immediacy of Twitter. People can see what other people are tweeting, and hashtags can trend within minutes. Tweeters also tend to multi-task.

As soon as Prasad, from Delhi, realised what was going on, he tried to rectify it.

"RVP is the account of Ravi Visvesvaraya Sharada Prasad, a telecom & infotech consultant in India. RVP is NOT the account of Robin van Persie," he tweeted.

"This is NOT the Twitter account of Robin Van Persie. Please do NOT mention @rvp if you mean Robin Van Persie," he added.

But this only spurred some fans to retweet his tweets and jokingly praise Prasad for his part in Manchester United's success.

"Congratulations to @RVP you fully deserved it. Incredible since you are a part time footballer & info tech consultant. #CHAMPIONS2013," tweeted one.

"He consults when he wants, He consults when he wants, Ravi Visvesvara Prasad, he consults when he wants, dont you @rvp," tweeted another, imitating a football chant.

But while the confusion may have been a source of entertainment for some, for Prasad - who says he's had more than 10,000 mentions in the past 24 hours - it hasn't been a laughing matter.

"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.

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

Prasad says he spent about 10 hours blocking between 4,000 and 5,000 new followers he amassed during, and after, the Aston Villa game.

"I sent lots of people messages explaining who I was. My email account is clogged too - I think people have been trying to hack into my Twitter account as I keep getting messages referring to a forgotten password."

The furore is not the first time Prasad has been confused with the Dutch footballer on Twitter.

He says he started getting messages for Van Persie about 18 months ago, but they became more frequent after the footballer's £24m move from Arsenal last summer.

Now he gets them every day and regularly resorts to posting messages pointing out his true identity.

"I've written on Manchester United's and Robin van Persie's Facebook and Twitter accounts too, but never received a reply," he says.

His @rvp account is so sought after, he's even received offers from fans to buy it.

Prasad isn't the first person to be the victim of a mistaken identity on Twitter.

In 2010, Ashley Kerekes, from Massachusetts, made headlines after she was bombarded by cricket messages sent to her Twitter account which is named @theashes.

Cricket fans mistakenly assumed her account referred to the Ashes contest between Australia and England, prompting the then 22-year-old to respond "this is not the account of the cricket match. Check profiles before you send mentions, it's incredibly annoying and rude".

Image caption The Ashes and @theashes

Her fame led her to be flown out to Sydney by an Australian airline to attend the fifth Ashes Test.

But even now, her Twitter account reads: "I'm not a freaking cricket match!".

Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy also found himself the victim of a barrage of Twitter abuse from Tottenham Hotspur fans raging against referee Chris Foy, after a game with Stoke City in December 2011.

The cyclist seemed to take the tweets in good spirit, tweeting back to confirm that he wasn't in need of glasses and did not lead a double life as an English official.

Prasad would still like to clear up the confusion.

"I'm a great fan of Robin van Persie, and 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," he says.

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