Top 10 things you need to know about World Cup star Paul the Psychic Octopus
Paul the Octopus is no more! The psychic cephalopod passed away last night in his sleep due to natural causes.
To celebrate his life, we're republishing this 10 things... from the height of Paul's fame last summer. RIP Paul.
Roll over Schweinsteiger and tell Sneijder the news: the biggest star of the 2010 World Cup hasn't played a single minute on the pitch. In fact, he hasn't even been on the same continent as any of the action.
No, the man - or, rather, cephalopod - everyone's talking about is Paul the Psychic Octopus, a resident of the Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, who has so far managed to correctly predict the winner of every game at the tournament featuring his adopted homeland's side.
Here's everything you need to know about the phenomenon that is Paul...
1) He was born in Weymouth, Dorset, in 2008. Despite the fact that Paul backed Germany to beat England, we still can't quite bring ourselves to label him a traitor, though.
2) He was named after a poem by German author Boy Lornse titled Der Tintenfisch Paul Oktopus. We're no cunning linguists, but we reckon that translates as The Cuttlefish, Paul Octopus. You can buy it here, should you be so inclined .
3) He's a good-looking chap (well, relatively speaking, of course) with a fetching stylish purple-yellow complexion that occasionally changes to an equally lovely yellow-purple look. Paul also has the full compliment of arms - that's eight for the slackers at the back.
4) He's always been a clever chap. Sea Life Aquarium chief Daniel Fey explains: "There was something about the way he looked at our visitors when they came close to the tank. It was so unusual, so we tried to find out what his special talents were."
5) And, of course, those special talents turned out to be picking the winners of football matches. The ultra scientific method used involves placing two glass containers containing Paul's favourite snack - a mussel - inside his tank. One container displays the German national flag, the other that of their opponents. Our hero then selects the victor by dint of which mussel he scoffs first. Simples!
6) A cynic might suggest that Paul merely selects Germany every time, but that cynic would, in fact, be wrong! The clever cephalopod's first attempt at sooth saying came during Euro 2008, when he not only successfully predicted that Germany would beat Poland and Austria during the group stages, but that they would also LOSE to Croatia. He followed that up by correctly calling the outcome of the quarter-final against Portugal and the semi-final versus Turkey but blotted his copy book for the first - and so far only - time when it came to final. Paul was convinced that the Germans would overcome Spain but unfortunately for him Fernando Torres had other ideas, and the Iberians ran out 1-0 winners.
7) Unbowed - and somehow saved from the calamari counter - Paul resumed his role as Nostradamus of the deep at the 2010 World Cup and hit the headlines again when he foretold the Fatherland's group-stage defeat to Serbia as well as their victories over Australia and Ghana. After then correctly calling the knock-out games against England and Argentina, the Octo-pundit caused a national state of emergency when he tipped Spain to win last night's semi-final. Distraught German fans praying Paul was merely hedging his bets after the Euro 2008 final fiasco had their worst fears confirmed last night when Carlos Puyol popped up to bag the winner.
8) Paul has, naturally, become an internet sensation. He has at least two Twitter pages ( here and here ), on which he deigns to answer the queries of 'puny bipeds', and a blog , on which he claims to be 'the advance party for a race of super intelligent pan-galactic beings who control space and time using our eight limbs on the biggest keyboard you every did see'.
9) Not everyone loves Paul as much as we do, though. Argentine chef Nicolas Bedorrou was so incensed by that quarter-final prediction that he posted the following on Facebook: "We will chase him and put him on some paper. We will then beat him (but correctly!) in order to keep the meat tender and then put it in boiling water." Following Germany's semi-final defeat, meanwhile, the comedian David Schneider Tweeted this: 'I wonder if the worldcup octopus can predict its own death. Possibly served with a garlic-paprika sauce'... Ouch!
10) Nobody quite knows how Paul can see the future - although keeper Oliver Walenciak reckons it might have something to do with the fact that "all octopus have nine brains so we know he has exceptional powers" - and, frankly, we don't care. We're just chuffed to bits that he does. Take it away, oh tentacled-one...
England v Germany: Paul turns against the land of his birth
Paul angers Argentina by backing Germany to win their quarter-final
The semi-final: Paul picks Spain!