World Cup 2010: Paul the psychic octopus ‘could transfer to Spain’ after bidding war

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Thanks for Retuning!

Red letter day: fans in down town Madrid celebrate.Photo: REUTERS

Madrid zoo announced a transfer bid for the oracle octopus, which became a worldwide sensation after correctly predicted the outcome of as many World Cup matches as he has legs.

The invertebrate is due to retire after predicating all of Germany’s World Cup. He finished his career by calling Spain’s final 1-0 win over Holland in the final at the weekend.

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The one blemish on its record was when he wrongly predicted Germany would beat Spain in the Euro 2008 final.

In what may prove to be this year’s biggest transfer story, negotiations have began for the world’s most famous cephalopod to head to Spain, still giddy from its win.

Officials from Zoo Aquarium in Madrid told Paul’s aquarium in Germany it would trump all others and give him a warm welcome in gratitude for predicting Spain’s World Cup win.

They believe the eight legged creature, named after a German children’s book by Boy Lornsen, will attract thousands of visitors and become a star attraction.

Madrid zoo contacted the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen “to ask them to transfer the animal” while making, what they said, was an offer to the Germans they could not refuse.

Officials promised to “improve on any offer received so far”. It said the bid to came in response to “dozens of petitions from all over Spain”.

They have offered an unspecified amount of cash and have also attempted to negotiate through an animal exchange programme.

“The zoo also guarantees that Paul will receive the best attention, reflecting the great affection in which he is held by all the Spanish people since he predicted that the Spanish team would win the football World Cup,” said Zoo spokeswoman Amparo Fernandez.

“We hope that within the next few days we will be able to confirm news that the admirable Paul will be part of the club of the most loved and charismatic animals of the Madrid Zoo.”

But a spokeswoman for Paul said he was not for sale.

“We are not in contact with Madrid Zoo. And we know nothing about swapping Paul for another animal or him going to Madrid Zoo for a transfer sum,” Sea Life spokeswoman Tanja Munzig said.

In octopus terms, Paul is already a pensioner, at the grand old age of two-and-a-half. Octopuses generally live three years at most.

Paul is so popular in Spain that a northwestern Spanish town tried to borrow him.

Officials in O Caraballino, population 14,000, also declared the octopus an honorary citizen.

It mayor is due to travel to Oberhausen next week to present him with a commemorative plaque and sculpture while Paul has also been presented with a miniature World Cup trophy.

He had also become at the centre of an international bidding war, after Spanish businessmen offered 38,000 euros to bring him to Spain.

Andres Iniesta, who scored the goal which won the World Cup final for Spain, said after the game: “As for the octopus, what can I say? We won. The octopus will be very popular in Spain”.

Octopus is a delicacy in restaurants throughout Spain, but Mrs Fernandez insisted there was no way Paul would end up being served up on a restaurant plate if he is moved to the Madrid Zoo.

The art of match predicting became a dangerous job for the clairvoyant cephalopod with bitter fans sending death-threat emails to his German aquarium, saying “we want Paul for the pan”.

Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, even jokingly suggested sending in a squad of octopus bodyguards.

Some people, however, won up to half a million pounds between them during the tournament by placing bets based on the octopus’s predictions.

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