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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 15 December, 2018

Can we just talk about the wild life of Paul the Octopus for a minute?

People used to send him death threats and he was offered state protection by the Prime Minister of Spain.

THE YEAR IS 2010 and the World Cup is currently taking place in South Africa. Ireland is as usual not involved having been denied a place in the World Cup by Theirry Henry’s handball (which we’re totally over) so we’re watching it with a little less interest than normal.

Our European neighbours (the Germans) though have gotten so excited about the whole thing because as usual they’re convinced they’re going to win it. They only went further to prove this by roping in an octopus and so Paul the Prediction Octopus was born.

Source: DPA/PA Images

Paul was just a little octopus from Weymouth who was moved to the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany.  He became a worldwide celebrity in 2010 as he correctly predicted the outcome of all 7 of their matches in 2010. He was well known in Germany before that having predicted 4 of their 6 matches in Euro 2008.

In fact, he correctly predicted 12 out of 14 matches and picked Spain to win the World Cup in 2010 making him more accurate than Jean Byrne, Gary Neville and Mystic Meg put together.

It was certainly a mark of a simpler time when we were obsessed with what an octopus thought was going to happen in the World Cup. He was more reliable than Eamon Dunphy in fairness to him.

The best thing about the whole event was the conspiracy theories surrounding Paul. Some people reckoned there was a specific food in each box meaning Paul was more likely to pick one box over the other. Some people reckoned he was attracted to the colour of the German flag when Paul was in fact colour blind.

A marine biologist did suggest that Paul could have just been really attracted to the German flag though which is sort of sweet. He’s just a really patriotic octopus.

There were some mental stories attached to this octopus too. In one tale, a Galician businessman tried to buy Paul so he could be the main attraction at a local fish festival. He actually raised €30,000 to offer the sea life centre but it was denied because Sealife were unsure if Paul would actually survive the festival which is the right concern to have.

When Germany lost their semi final in 2008 (something which Paul predicted), German fans wanted Paul to be eaten which led to the Prime Minister of Spain offering Paul state protection and another politician offering him safe haven. TO AN OCTOPUS.

Source: DPA/PA Images

Later when Paul predicted Germany’s victory against Argentina in 2010, Argentinian supporters started posting death threats in the form of octopus recipes on their social media. In fact the President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused poor little Paul of being a symbol of Western decay which also seemed a bit harsh. He’s just an octopus.

Paul died in October of 2010 but he will never be forgotten as a symbol of a mad cap summer of crap football. We needed something desperately to distract us from vuvuzela’s and no goals and Paul gave that to us. We can never repay that debt. The only thing we can do is acknowledge this brilliant memorial that Sea Life Oberhausen had made of Paul after his death.

Source: DPA/PA Images

God bless you Paul the Octopus, we most definitely did not deserve you.

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Rachel O'Neill

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