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Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Friday, 20 August 2010 12:56 UK

'Psychic' octopus backs England World Cup bid

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Paul the Octopus backs England 2018 bid

Paul the "psychic" octopus has become the latest star to support England's bid to host the World Cup in 2018.

The two-year-old Weymouth-born but German based cephalopod became a global celebrity for predicting results at the World Cup in South Africa.

He has since signed a book and a number of merchandise deals, and is also set to exhibit his skills in a film.

Former England star John Barnes said: "Paul becoming an official ambassador is tremendous for the bid campaign."

The famous sea creature was hatched at a Sea Life Centre in Weymouth in 2008 and, after spending two years at a German aquarium he hit the headlines during the summer for his football predictions.

He correctly predicted the outcomes of all seven of Germany's games - including the 4-1 demolition of England for a place in the quarter-finals - plus the Spain-Netherlands final.

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Following a triumphant return to the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium in the western German city in July, Paul was rewarded with his own replica World Cup trophy garnished with his favourite food - mussels.

Paul used mussels to make his World Cup predictions for each game by choosing one from the two jars bearing the flags of opponents.

There has been recent rumours of retirement, along with offers to purchase him, but Tanja Munzig, spokseperson at the German aquarium, insisted that Paul would "step back from the official oracle business".

However, with his country of birth looking to stage the Fifa tournament in eight years, any thought of a rest seems to have been put on hold.

Nicola Hamilton, manager at Weymouth Sea Life Centre, said: "Paul has spent the last two years of his life in Germany, but he is definitely a proud Englishman and is therefore delighted to put his support behind England 2018.

"We have had a number of football approaches from around the world but Paul was only ever going to choose his homeland.

Paul the octopus
Will Paul be predicting success for England in 2018?

"With his predicting days behind him Paul is now concentrating on a number of new projects and the England 2018 campaign is something we are sure he feels passionately about. Becoming an official ambassador for the bid is an honour for Paul and everyone here."

Paul joins a list of celebrities supporting the bid that includes England players David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand, 2008 Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, and musicians Noel Gallagher and Sting.

Barnes, a former Liverpool and England midfielder and fellow 2018 ambassador, added: "After his success during South Africa 2010, Paul is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in football.

"I predict that huge numbers of people will follow Paul's lead and back the bid. Since our launch last year, more than a million football fans have officially shown their support, including some of England's most famous names.

"With the decision date fast approaching it's now more important than ever to get behind England 2018."

England is battling with Russia, the United States, Australia, and joint bids from Spain and Portugal, and Holland and Belgium for the right to host the 2018 World Cup tournament.

The winning bids for 2018 and the 2022 tournament will be revealed on 2 December.



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see also
'Psychic octopus' Paul to retire
13 Jul 10 |  Europe
'Psychic' octopus sees German win
26 Jun 10 |  Europe
'Psychic' octopus favours Spain
07 Jul 10 |  Europe
Italia 90 chief backs England bid
09 Jun 10 |  Business
World Cup bids head-to-head
17 Oct 10 |  Football
Beckham hands over 2018 Cup bid
14 May 10 |  Football
Japan abandons 2018 World Cup bid
04 May 10 |  Football
Beckham pledges 2018 bid effort
03 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
Richards resigns from 2018 board
24 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Rivals unite for World Cup bid
23 Jul 09 |  Merseyside


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