FIFA World Cup 2010: Paul the Psychic Octopus

Andy Gray@@TheRealAndyGrayContributor IIJuly 6, 2010

Move over Nostradamus, and make way Mystic Meg, there’s a new psychic in town and he’s got the track record to back it up.

I have to be honest; even I am considering throwing in the towel. Sometimes something happens that forces you to take a look at yourself and consider your ability in your profession. This has never been clearer than being put to shame by an Octopus.
Paul the Octopus, or Paul Oktopus, as he is known at home, is a 2-year-old with a penchant for correctly predicting the results of German football matches. Despite being born in Weymouth, England, Paul decided the grass was greener, packed up his bags and headed for Oberhausen, Germany, where he now resides at the city’s Sea Life Aquarium.

Allegedly, when Paul was captured his captors attempted to boil him. Not taking too kindly to this, Paul reached out and turned the gas off. It was this that got people thinking that he could be special. Although why it was decided to test him on his football predictions above all other things is still a mystery.
For reasons unknown, at the start of the European Championships in 2008, Paul’s keepers decided to test the cephalopod mollusk. He was presented with food in identical containers, one marked with the German flag, the other with their opponents on that day, Poland. Paul opted for the German box, and the nation chuckled as Germany ran out 2-0 winners.

In the second game, Paul decided on a change and treated himself to the contents of the box marked with the flag of Croatia. Later that evening, Croatia recorded a 2-1 victory against their German counterparts. People began to take notice. Paul went on to successfully predict five out of the six German results during the tournament and became a national treasure. The only result he got wrong? He plumped for his adopted homeland to beat Spain in the final. Fernando Torres proved him wrong.

Two years on, the prediction machine is at it again. Paul has now impressively correctly picked the winner in all five of Germany’s games in the World Cup so far, including the unexpected loss to Serbia. In the second round, despite hailing from Weymouth, Paul backed Germany to beat England in the last 16. Irritatingly he was proved right. That’s right, even an octopus foresaw our demise.

If you had entrusted your hard earned cash with Paul and backed each of his predictions with a crisp £20 note, you would now be enjoying a profit of £213.60. On Monday, photos were released of Mr. Oktopus choosing to claim his meal from the Spanish box, ahead of Germany’s semi-final clash with Spain. However, it was yesterday that revealed that the photo was a hoax and was in fact the image of Paul choosing Serbia earlier in the tournament, with a Spanish flag replacing that of the Balkan nation.

The real prediction was made this morning, and the mock-up artists were proved right as Paul did in fact opt for Spain to be victorious in the quest for a Final berth. If Paul's performance in making his prediction is a sign of what is to come on the pitch then we’re in for an end-to-end thriller. He teased the crowd by lingering at the German flag before heading for the Spanish box, much to the despair of the watching German media. 

Only time will tell whether the eight-legged oracle will continue his winning streak, but it seems as if Die Mannschaft will be hoping to utilise his talents for many tournaments to come. However, with a life expectancy of less than five years, it looks like this particular clairvoyant may have to hang up his crystal ball following the closing ceremony.

Turns out gambling really is for suckers...(*sigh*)