Arguably one of the World Cup's biggest stars, Paul the octopus has now been accused of having a dodgy history. His trainer has come out with the revelation that he is Italian and not British as thought earlier. Also, his age has become a question of debate.
The cephalopod oracle predicted eight successive match winners correctly, but is not being labelled a fraud because of sketchy details of his past. Officially, he is listed as having been born in Weymouth (England) three years ago, after which he moved to a tank at the Sea Life centre in Oberhausen, Germany.
The Daily Mirror, though, reported that Paul's trainer Verena Bartsch claimed she caught him off the Italian island of Elba in April. She said: “I caught him with my bare hands. He was only a few weeks old.”
Bartsch also added she had taken Paul first to a sea life centre in the German town of Coburg before moving him to Oberhausen. Why she chose to wait so long before revealing these details, is not clear.
What the claims mean is that a shadow of doubt has been cast over the age of the psychic attraction. If it is indeed only a few months old, it could not possibly be the same octopus that predicted Euro 2008 results. Paul was said to have had an 80 per cent success rate at the start of the WC.
Italian newspaper La Repubblica said: “Octopus gets it right again but his real name is Paolo.” And based on his Italian origins, opposition MP Andrea Sarubbi came up with a tongue-in-cheek jab at the government. “I have just read the shocking news that the famous predicting octopus Paul is not English but in fact from Italy. I have written to the director of the German Sea Life centre and asked that he be repatriated as soon as possible because never has our country ever needed someone to make clear and decisive judgments such as now,” he said.