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Paul the Octopus Backs England as World Cup Hosts

Friday, 20 Aug 2010 | 9:44 AM ET

Paul the Octopus "pledged allegiance" to his home country England and its bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup Friday - by swimming onto a box marked "England."

An octopus named Paul sits on a box decorated with a Spanish flag and a shell inside on July 9, 2010 at the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, western Germany. Paul's task is to decide in favour of one of the shells hidden in boxes with the flags of the Netherlands and Spain to act thus as oracle for the upcoming final match of the FIFA Football World Cup between the two countries on July 11, 2010. Paul, the 'psychic' octopus, who had predicted well the result of six German matches earlier in the
Roland Weihrauch | AFP | Getty Images
An octopus named Paul sits on a box decorated with a Spanish flag and a shell inside on July 9, 2010 at the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, western Germany. Paul's task is to decide in favour of one of the shells hidden in boxes with the flags of the Netherlands and Spain to act thus as oracle for the upcoming final match of the FIFA Football World Cup between the two countries on July 11, 2010. Paul, the 'psychic' octopus, who had predicted well the result of six German matches earlier in the

The octopus, which was hatched at a Sea Life Center in Weymouth in 2008, shot to international fame by picking the winners during this year's soccer World Cup eight times in a row. He even picked the ultimate champions Spain by opting for the Spanish food box over the German one, ahead of the game.

Paul's previous exploits involved an element of decision, but his apparent backing of the England bid involved him swimming onto the only box in his tank, which was marked England. Even though it's not actually a prediction, he does join an impressive list of "bid ambassadors," which includes David Beckham, Lewis Hamilton and Sting.

"After his success during South Africa 2010, Paul the Octopus is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in football so news of him becoming an official England 2018 Ambassador is tremendous for the Back the Bid campaign," John Barnes, fellow England 2018 Ambassador, said in the press release.

Now, the eight-legged sea creature has "officially retired from psychic predictions" following his latest "choice," according to a press release from the team behind the World Cup bid.

But that doesn't mean that he'll be reaching for his pipe and slippers. Paul has a book deal, potential movie role and is the face of merchandise including a coin and range of toys, the press release said.

During the 2010 World Cup there was confusion over Paul's nationality, but Nicola Hamilton, manager at Weymouth Sea Life Centre, is adamant he is a Brit.

"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," Hamilton said in the press release.

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