German Oracle

VANGUARD Newspaper- Emma Njoku

Football fans that followed the game in the 70s and 80s up till early 90s would remember the late ‘Oracle of Ibadan,’ Prof. Sam Akpabot. The university teacher was famous for his prediction of the results of football matches before the games. Often times, his predictions came true.

Soccer fans used to look forward to his predictions of the scores of crucial league and FA Cup fixtures, particularly, when such fixtures involved traditional clubs, like IICC Shooing Satrs of Ibadan, Enugu Rangers International, Bendel Insurance, Super Stores of Lagos, BCC Lions of Gboko and later on teams, like Leventis United of Ibadan and Abiola Babes of Abeokuta, among others. The late ‘Oracle of Ibadan,’ who was a regular at the match venues, would usually indicate the scores of the matches with finger signs after supposedly consulting with his crystal balls days before the match. Fans, particularly, those whose clubs were favoured to win, by his prediction, usually went into ecstatic frenzy, while those whose teams were supposed to be on the losing side would gear him for obvious reasons.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa may have ended, but the role played by Octopus Paul, the football oracle that stunned football fans with his accurate predictions of the winners of eight matches during the World Cup would still be a subject for discourse among football fans in the days ahead.
Even the doubting Thomases, including President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and German clergymen, who dismissed Paul’s predictions, must be green with envy for the oracle that appeared to have rubbished their respective faiths.

“Don’t listen to the Octopus. Here in Africa, we throw bones; it’s the bones that talk, not Octopuses. We will hear which one is telling the truth,” President Zuma was said to have derided the oracles while addressing some South African football fans, who appeared to believe in the predictions of the Octopus and his rival, Mani, a Singaporean parakeet credited with forecasting that Netherlands would defeat Spain in the final match of 2010 World Cup.

A certain Pastor Paul Vlaar began his sermon to an Oranje-wearing congregation of 300 in the town of Obdam, by praying for the Netherlands to win the World Cup final against Spain and dismissing the prediction by the German oracle. To the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the oracle represents joy and as such must be jealously safe guarded. Any wonder why he spoke in defence of the oracle when German fans threatened to vent their spleen on the oracle after his prediction that Spain would beat Germany in the semi-finals at the World Cup.

“I’m concerned about sending in a team to protect the octopus. I’m thinking about sending. I’m concerned about the octopus. I’m about sending in a team to protect the octopus because it was very spectacular that he should get Spain’s victory right from there,” Zapatero said.

The manager of the aquariums, where the oracle stays, Stefan Porwoll, was quoted as instructing the guards and people at the entrance to keep a close look as possible to guard against football fans coming after Paul for revenge.

Although Porwoll revealed that Octopus Paul was coping with fame well during the recently concluded World Cup in South Africa, he, however, announced that the oracle would retire from predicting football matches after the 2010 Mundial.

Paul’s abilities to accurately predict the results of matches first came to the fore during the 2008 European Championship, in which he correctly predicted five out of six games involving Germany. But it was his prediction of Spain’s defeat of Germany in the semi-finals of the recently concluded World Cup in South Africa that stunned the Germans. Although he received threats from German fans that felt betrayed, the oracle is said to have received more love mails from his admirers.

Already, there are reports that the German oracle is being bombarded by many who are now consulting it to predict on their future partners, the gender of their unborn babies or the out of coming elections.
“A host of offers from around the globe will be carefully vetted in the coming days to see if there are opportunities to spread Paul’s fame even further, without involving the canny cephalod directly,” Sea Life aquariums said in a statement.

Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany, where Paul resides, is also considering establishing a school for octopods, “so that Paul has the opportunity to pass on some of his skills to younger cousins before his short but memorable life reaches its natural conclusion.”
Said spokesman Mark Oakley: “He has been a superstar and deserves a quiet retirement. Paul, the octopus, is arguably the most famous sea creature there has ever been.”

The two-year-old octopus, who was born in England, became a global celebrity during the soccer tournament. During each prediction, two mussel-filled acrylic boxes labeled with a team’s flag were lowered into his tank. Whichever box he chose conveyed the winning team.

He drew cries of despair from assembled watchers before the semi-finals, when he lingered over the box for the German flag before opting for the Spanish flag instead. Spain won the match 1-0.
Bitter German fans later threatened to turn him into sushi. Sea Life, in Oberhausen, received death-threat emails saying, “we want Paul for the pan,” said entertainment supervisor Daniel Fey.
But after Spain’s triumph in Sunday’s final, the country’s Prime Minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero called for octopus bodyguards.

He said: “I think that the pope should consider the miraculous calamari for sainthood - not only because they’re countrymen but other people have been made holy for less. St Paul, patron saint of football ... apart from that: I doubt he’ll stay long in retirement. Once you got football in your blood, there’s no going back.
“He is retiring at the pinnacle of his career while he is still in the spotlight. How many people can say that? He really is a genius. The mystique and legend of Paul will live on.”
Many are of the opinion that Paul has done more in his life than some people have and has become an octopus of legend so much that it won’t be a surprise if there’s a protest for the oracle to come out of retirement for the Euro 2012 championships.

The question remains, is Octopus Paul a devil or a saint?


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