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WORLD CUP oracle Paul the Octopus has died at the age of 2 years and 10 months in his tank at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany. He passed away peacefully in his sleep. 😦

Over the course of this summer’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Weymouth hatched Paul became the most famous animal on the planet. He outshone every single player and event at the tournament by predicting the winner in all seven of his adoptive country’s matches. This included Germany’s shock loss to Serbia (0-1) in their second match and their eventual elimination to Spain (also 0-1) in the Semi-Finals.

Everybody wanted to know who Paul thought would win the Final, and his prediction was broadcast live around the globe. He chose Spain over the Netherlands, and the Spanish went on to beat the Dutch 1-0 after extra-time in the Final (a.k.a. – The Battle of Johannesburg).

The odds of correctly predicating the winners in all eight matches have been given at 256/1.

It is also heavily rumoured – although denied by his keeper – that Paul correctly predicted four of Germany’s six matches in Euro 2008. He is reported to have gotten wrong Croatia’s win over Germany and Spain’s win over Germany in the Final.

Needles to say, Paul made several enemies as a result of his predictions. When Spain beat Germany the German newspaper Westfälische Rundschau accused him of betrayal. I take it they didn’t know he was English. The Spanish government then stepped in with their PM, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero offering him safe-haven in Spain. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used a speech in Tehran to publicly attack Paul, saying that the west was using him as a propaganda tool. Err, Mahmoud…he’s just an Octopus.

The Sea Life Centre retired Paul the day after the Final, and presented to him his very own replica World Cup trophy and an extra portion of his favourite food – and prediction making tools – mussels.

But Paul kept himself busy in his retirement, and in August he became an official ambassador for England’s 2018 World Cup bid.

Alas, he would not live to see if his home country would be awarded the tournament. Octopuses rarely live beyond the age of 2, so he actually had a long life by his species standards.

P92: “Rest in peace Paul. You were the best thing to come out of what was a pretty dyer World Cup.”

Zakumi (from Jo’burg): “Hey it wasn’t that bad. But seriously, Paul if you can hear me up there in that big fish tank in the sky, we will miss you terribly.”

P92 (raises a full glass): “To Paul.”

Zakumi (raises glass): “Here here, to Paul.”


FINALLY, I am able to post my very own awards for the 2010 World Cup.

Best Picture

Fernando Torres with the World Cup and a Liverpool scarf

See it on my ‘About Pickle92 page’. What a message to send to us fans.

Worst Team


Public in-fighting, players refusing to train and insulting the manager who himself was clueless.

Most Disappointing Team


We were supposed to have one of our best ever World Cups, but instead had our worst.

Villain of the World Cup

Luis Suárez

Handball on the line cost Ghana a place in the last four. He then said that his was the true hand of God, and that he pulled off the save of the tournament.

Pipe and Slippers Team


They were an old team four years ago, and many of that squad were in South Africa.

Best Underdogs


Made it into the last 16 after beating Italy.

Best Match

Slovakia 3-2 Italy

Slovakia knockout the reigning Champions, who wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Worst Match

Portugal 0-0 Brazil

Two of the best teams in the world played as if they just didn’t care.

Worst Timing


I missed England’s goal against U.S.A. because an advert came on.

Most Proud Player

Jong Tae-Se of North Korea

He cried his eyes out during his countries anthem against Brazil. Many players can learn a lot from him.

My Biggest Cheer

Tshabalala’s goal against Mexico

Fantastic goal to give the host nation the lead in the opening game.

Teams Other than England who at one point had My Support

South Africa, New Zealand, North Korea (all three games), Slovakia, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and the English Officials (all games)

Best Story

Iker Casillas forgetting to post his father’s £1million pools coupon

Worst Quote

Wayne Rooney

“Nice to see your home fans booing ya. That’s what loyal support is.” This was after England drew 0-0 with Algeria.

Worst Play Acting

Kader Keïta of Côte d’Ivoire

He faked injury after running into Kaká and got the Brazilian sent-off.

Red Mist Award

Sani Kaita of Nigeria

He kicked a Greek player whilst off the field when his team were 1-0 up. They went on to lose 1-2.

Worst Injury / Brave Little Solider Award

Zdeno Štrba of Slovakia

Had his knee cut open against Italy, but still played on for another 40 minutes!

Best TV Pundit

Marcel Desailly (ITV)

For saying what we were all thinking about England, and for his reactions when his birthland (Ghana) scored (see below).

Best Individual Performance

Paul the Octopus

He predicted the correct winners in all of Germany’s seven matches (including their shock loss to Serbia). He also correctly predicted that Spain would win the Final.

English hatched Paul cost bookmaker William Hill £500,000 alone. He has now retired from Football and since returned to his day job in Oberhausen’s Sea Life Centre in Germany.

Zakumi: “Well that’s it then. Our time together is over.”

P92: “It’s been brilliant having you with me during your World Cup man.”

Zakumi: “I’ll keep in touch. If anything else comes up about the 2010 World Cup on this blog I’ll be here.”

P92: “I hope you have enjoyed our coverage of the World Cup, and thank you for reading it.”

Zakumi: “Bye everybody.”

WE all know that Spain took the top FIFA prize in South Africa (see below), but these are the other awards the governing body dished out.

Golden Ball – Best Player

Diego Forlán (Uruguay)

Golden Boot – Top Goalscorer

Thomas Müller (Germany)

5 Goals & 3 Assists

Golden Glove – Best Goalkeeper

Iker Casillas (Spain)

Best Young Player – Best Under-21

Thomas Müller (Germany)

Fair Play Trophy – Most Disciplined Team


Zakumi: “Can’t argue with these, but where are your awards?”

P92: “Er…They’ll be on tomorrow.”

2010 World Champions - Spain

I’M having issues with this blog. I just can’t get it to look they way I want.

Zakumi: “It’ll be fine tomorrow.”

P92: “I hope.”








MotM = Andrés INIESTA (ESP)

Andrés INIESTA 116’


Ref = Howard WEBB (ENG)

Johannesburg – JSC

SPAIN won their first World Cup last night with a 1-0 extra-time win over the Netherlands, who taste bitter defeat in the Final for a third time.

The Spanish exploded out of the starting blocks as they went for an early goal. Sergio Ramos had a close-range header saved less than five minutes in and David Villa hit the side netting soon after.

Dutch number eight Nigel de Jong was lucky not to have been sent-off when he kicked XABI ALONSO in the chest. Mark van Bommel (Netherlands) was also lucky to still be on the pitch in the first half.

Netherlands finished the first 45 minutes the stronger side, and continued with that momentum when the game restarted. Spain did up their game, but had captain Iker Casillas to thank when he saved a shot from Arjen Robben with his leg after the Dutchman and he went one-on-one.

It was now Spain’s turn to have the most of the game. Villa saw his close-range effort cleared away from goal and Ramos this time headed over when he should’ve scored. Robben then tried his luck again at the other end of the pitch, and again Casillas got in his way.

The second half also saw both number sixes, van Bommel and Andrés Iniesta nearly have a fight, but I’d call it handbags at ten paces.

With the score at 0-0 after 90 minutes, we went into extra-time.

Cesc Fábregas had two great chances to give Spain the lead, but one was saved by Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg and the other went wide. Team-mate Jesús Navas almost scored in the first period of extra-time as well but his shot was deflected into the side netting by Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst in his last ever game.

In the second period of extra-time both sides well and truly went for it. Nobody wanted penalties like the 2006 Final. What was already a bad tempered game boiled over when English ref Howard Webb gave a second yellow card to Dutchman John Heitinga.

With just four minutes left, Spain tore into the Dutch half of the pitch, and Iniesta smashed the ball into the goal from the resulting attack. Spain held on for the last few minutes to become World Champions for the very first time.

This was a brutal game of football, but wasn’t the classic I was expecting it to be. The Dutch seemed to think that they could literally break Spain down. Neither side gave English ref Howard Webb an easy game, but he did the very best job he could under the circumstances. All in all, the best (and right) team won.

This Final saw a number of firsts for the World Cup, and here they are:

  • The first Final since 1978 (Argentina vs. Netherlands) with two teams who had never previously won the title.
  • The first ever Final not to have either: Brazil, Italy, Germany or Argentina in it.
  • Spain becomes the first European side to win the World Cup outside of Europe.
  • The first time that two different European sides have won the World Cup consecutively: (Italy 2006, Spain 2010). The previous occasion Europe won the World Cup back-to-back was with Italy in 1934 and 1938.
  • Spain also becomes the first team to have lost their opening game (0-1 to Switzerland) and then go on to win the World Cup.

Some other notable records are:

  • This was the first World Cup that saw both of the previous finalists (Italy and France) eliminated in the groups. They both finished bottom of their groups.
  • The Final saw a record 14 yellow cards with one red.
  • Spain scored the fewest ever amount of goals by the Champions with just eight. They only let in two, tying with France in 1998 and Italy in 2006.

Zakumi: “Congratulations Spain on winning your first ever World Cup.”

P92: “I echo that. Tomorrow you will be able to see the FIFA awards for players and teams, and my own special awards along with them.”

Zakumi: “I can’t wait for that.”

P92: “Me neither.”








Edinson CAVANI 28’

Diego FORLÁN 51’

MotM = Thomas MÜLLER (GER)

Thomas MÜLLER 19’

Marcell JANSEN 56’

Sami KHEDIRA 82’

Match for Third Place

Ref = Benito ARCHUNDIA (MEX)

Nelson Mandela Bay / Port Elizabeth

GERMANY won the bronze medal last night after beating Uruguay in another epic Match for Third Place in the World Cup.

Thomas Müller opened the scoring after pouncing on Bastian Schweinsteiger’s spilled long range shot just before the 20 minute mark. Schweinsteiger was at fault for Uruguay’s equaliser though. He was dispossessed on the half way line, and Edinson Cavani scored from the counter attack just nine minutes later.

Uruguay made it 2-1 in their favour when Diego Forlán volleyed the ball into the ground with enough power to send it into the goal from just outside the penalty area. But Germany levelled the game at 2-2 just five minutes later through Marcell Jansen. The Uruguay keeper missed the ball from a cross and all Jansen had to do was be brave and get his head on the ball, which he did.

Germany won the game in the 82nd minute when the Uruguayan defence failed to clear a corner, allowing Sami Khedira to head home.

But the drama wasn’t over yet. Right at the end of injury-time Uruguay were awarded a free-kick deep in Germany’s half. Forlán took the free-kick but hit the bar with what turned out to be the very last kick of the match.

Zakumi: “It’s the big one today. Do you have your preview ready?”

P92: “Yes, and it is just this. The Netherlands and Spain have never won the World Cup before. They have never played each other before in a World Cup finals match or European Championship finals match. It will be the first time that a European team have won the World Cup outside of Europe. Also it is the first Final without either: Brazil, Italy, Germany or Argentina in it.”

Zakumi: “Not to mention England’s Howard Webb refereeing the match.”

P92: “Hold onto your seats world. This should be a classic.”

Today’s game is:

The 2010 World Cup Final. Netherlands vs. Spain, BBC 1 and ITV. Kick-off at 19:30.

THE match nobody wants to be playing in, the match for third place. But unfortunately for these two, that’s exactly where they are.




Uruguay and Germany have won five World Cups between them: Uruguay in ’30 and ’50, (West) Germany in ’54, ’74 and ’90.

The pair have met three times in the World Cup before tonight’s game. West Germany beat Uruguay 4-0 in 1966 and 1-0 in the Match for Third Place in 1970. They drew 1-1 with each other in 1986.

We should get some goals in this game. The 16 previous Matches for Third Place have produced 63 goals, and the two teams have scored 22 in this tournament alone.

Zakumi: “Can only see Germany winning this.”

P92: “Uruguay don’t deserve to take bronze. The way that they have carried on since the Ghana game has been shameful.”

Catch the match tonight on ITV; kick-off is at 19:30.









Carles PUYOL 73’


Ref = Viktor KASSAI (HUN)


SPAIN advanced to their first ever World Cup Final by beating Germany 1-0.

The match itself was almost chess-like, with both teams trying to outmanoeuvre the other. The first half lacked chances, with Spain’s Carles Puyol having the best – heading the ball over the bar from a corner. Spain themselves seemed easy with the ball, while Germany looked content to let Spain have the ball as they waited to pounce.

The second half followed the same pattern until Spain started to have some good shots on goal. David Villa would have scored if he was a couple of inches taller when the ball raced across the goal mouth. But with 17 minutes left, Puyol got his header from a corner technique spot on and scored. Try as they might, Germany just couldn’t get through the Spanish back line for the rest of the match.

Zakumi: “So there we have it, a Netherlands vs. Spain Final. We will defiantly have a new winner of the World Cup on Sunday night.”

P92: “And in charge of the Final will be Englishman Howard Webb. He has been the best ref of these finals by miles.”

Zakumi: “So you’ll be wearing your England shirt for the Final?”

P92: “You bet.”








Diego FORLÁN 41’

Maximiliano PEREIRA 90+2’

MotM = Wesley SNEIJDER (NED)


Wesley SNEIJDER 70’

Arjen ROBBEN 73’*


Ref = Ravshan IRMATOV (UZB)

Cape Town

THE NETHERLANDS was painted orange last night as the Dutch football team progressed to its third World Cup Final and first since 1978 in a match that swung one way and then the other.

The opening minutes were quite tense as neither side wanted to make a mistake. So Netherlands captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst decided to smash the ball from long range to score a monster of a goal on 18 minutes.

It took Uruguay a little while to sort themselves out after this. They were given a few minutes thinking time when the Netherlands’ Demy De Zeeuw was kicked in the face whilst trying to prevent an over-head kick. Luckily it was the sponge they used to clean him up that came off the worst.

But this stoppage gave Uruguay some of the momentum back and as half-time neared, stand-in captain Diego Forlán scored the second long range goal of the game.

Uruguay continued to cause the Dutch problems in the early stages of the second half and looked the more likely to score. But in the 70th minute the Dutch took a 2-1 lead thanks to Wesley Sneijder. His seemingly limp shot on the edge of the Uruguay box took a deflection on its way and was almost touched by his team-mate Robin van Persie (who some people would say was just offside). If he had of touched the ball the goal wouldn’t have stood.

Karma is a bitch isn’t it Uruguay?

Just three minutes later Arjen Robben headed home to make it 3-1 Netherlands and crush Uruguay’s hopes. They did score in injury-time through Maxi Pereira but time was against them.

*The 2,200th World Cup finals goal.

Zakumi: “Now with the Netherlands in the Final and Germany or Spain to meet them in it, a European team will win the World Cup outside Europe for the very first time.”

P92: “Based on current form, Germany will beat the Dutch in the Final, but Netherlands vs. Spain would be epic. Neither side has won the World Cup before.”

Today’s game is:

  • Germany vs. Spain, BBC 1 19:30

SO here they are, by hook or by crock, the last four countries in this World Cup.







Uruguay and the Netherlands have only met once before in the World Cup finals back in 1974. The Dutch ran out 2-0 winners.

Germany will be looking to get revenge on Spain after they lost the Euro 2008 Final to them. They have played three World Cup finals matches. West Germany won 2-1 in 1966 and 1982, and unified Germany drew with Spain 1-1 in 1994.

Zakumi: “It’s hard to pick a winner out of these four.”

P92: “I don’t think Uruguay will win, and I reckon the Final will be Netherlands vs. Germany.”

Zakumi: “So a replay of 1974 them.”

P92: “Yep.”

Today’s game is:

  • Uruguay vs. Netherlands, ITV 19:30