The 2010 World Cup just would not have been the same without the mesmerizing predictions of that silent psychic cephalopod, Paul the Octopus. GS takes a nostalgic look back at Paul’s run in anticipation of our upcoming World Cup-themed crossword puzzle and quiz.  (GS wasn’t around yet when the World Cup was on or, hopefully, this would have been a bit more timely.)

For awhile, Paul was Germany’s favorite secret weapon.  Coming off an already impressive record in Germany’s 2008 UEFA Cup bid, Paul racked up a series of winning World Cup picks that made the Deutschland faithful believe 2010 really could be their year. 

To kick things off, Paul first saw Germany safely into the Round of 16.  Next, he sensed Germany’s decisive victory over England in the first stage of the knockout round.  Then, he predicted that even the mighty Argentinians would succumb to the German juggernaut.

Paul Picks Germany Over Ghana Paul Picks Germany Over England Paul Predicts Germany Beats Argentina

Paul’s impressively prescient picks soon won him worldwide media acclaim.  His feats were lauded on air and in print from Amsterdam to Zimbabwe.  Before long, everyone wanted to know everything about Paul.  ESPN traced Paul’s controversial origins back to the U.K., to which Steve McManaman quaintly remarked, “and he’s a lovely octopus”.  Seth Meyers and Andy Samberg gaily feted Paul at the ESPY’s with Samberg dressed in a full-body octopus costume.

Indeed, it looked liked Paul and Germany would soon be riding high with a victory celebration full of mussels and wiener schnitzel.  That is, until the unthinkable happened. 

Somewhere between the heady quarterfinal victory and the lead-up to the semifinal match, Paul suddenly decided that he had a taste for Spain rather than Germany.  As Paul feasted on his Spanish mussel, it seems safe to say that all of Germany wept a collective tear in their favorite beer.

The inaugural Spanish victory proved Pulpo Paul was really no flash in the pan.  As Germany retreated to the consolation match, Paul was left to relish a perfect 8 for 8 record of winning World Cup picks.

In the end, Paul the Pulpo Perfecto turned out to be as transient and mediagenic as any famous football striker.  Germany let Paul go on waivers to be an honorary citizen of Spain.  At last word, Paul was heard to be happily enjoying his tasty new Spanish diet and embarking on a promising advertising career with more than 160 endorsement offers, including a book deal, according to his agent.

                          Paul Predicts Spain Beats the Netherlands  German Newswoman Reports from Paul's Tank on His Spain Pick  

                            Paul Begins His Advertising Career    

To relive more of Paul’s glory, see:

Spiegel Online International: “Paul the Octopus Predicts a German Advance”, “Paul the Octopus Picks Germany to Beat Argentina“, “Paul Shatters Germany’s Hopes by Picking Spain”, “Pulpo Paul Predicts Spanish Victory in World Cup“, “Germany Sours on Octopus Oracle“, “Oracle Paul Celebrates Perfect World Cup Record”, “Paul to Become Honorary Citizen of Spanish Town”, “Psychic Octopus Begins Advertising Career”    

De Telegraaf (in Dutch): “Octopus Paul: Nederland verliest!”  July 9, 2010.

RadioVop Zimbabwe: “Paul the Psychic Octopus Predicts Spain Will Beat Holland”.  July 9, 2010.

Asahi Shimbun: “Paul the Psychic Octopus Faces Frying Pan After Predicting German Loss“.  July 10, 2010.

Paul the Psychic Octopus from ESPN ESPYs – Youtube video file from ESPN ESPYs with Andy Samberg dressed as Paul.