27 Oct 2010

'Psychic' World Cup octopus dies

2:59 pm on 27 October 2010

The octopus who shot to fame during this year's football World Cup in South Africa for his flawless record in predicting game outcomes has died at his aquarium in Germany.

The octopus, named Paul, beat the odds during the World Cup by correctly forecasting all eight games he was asked to predict, including Spain's 1-0 win over the Netherlands in the final.

For the prediction, two boxes were lowered into the salty soothsayer's tank, each containing a mussel and the flags of the two opposing teams.

Watched by a myriad of reporters, Paul would head to one box, wrench open the lid and gobble the tasty morsel, with the box he plumped for being deemed the likely winner.

His astonishing ability made him a global media phenomenon. His later predictions were carried live on rolling news channels in Germany.

But the art of football predicting became a dangerous job for the octopus, born at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, Dorset, before being transferred to the Sea Life Oberhausen in western Germany.

He was slammed in the British press for treason after tipping Germany to beat his "home country" which they duly did, 4-1.

He then fell offside with bitter German fans who threatened to turn him into sushi after he correctly predicted a semi-final defeat for the Mannschaft against Spain.

Stung by Paul's "treachery" at picking Spain over Germany in a semi-final, some sections of the 350,000-strong crowd watching the game on giant screens in Berlin sang anti-octopus songs.

No less an authority than Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero called for octopus bodyguards.

Paul's body is now in cold storage while the aquarium decides "how best to mark his passing".