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England 2018 bid backed by Paul the octopus

The England 2018 World Cup bid has been boosted by the backing of Paul the "psychic" octopus.

During the World Cup in South Africa, the German based cephalopod became a global celebrity for correctly predicting all seven of Germany's games - including the 4-1 demolition of England for a place in the quarter-finals - as well as the Spain-Netherlands final.

Paul chose mussels from jars bearing the flags of opponents to make his predictions and is now on the road to stardom with merchandise deals and a film in the offing.

The Weymouth-born octopus, who resides at the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium in Germany, may have retired from the clairvoyant game, but has put his tentacles behind England in the bidding for the 2018 World Cup.

Nicola Hamilton, manager at Weymouth Sea Life Centre, told the BBC: "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.

"We have had a number of football approaches from around the world but Paul was only ever going to choose his homeland.

"With his predicting days behind him Paul is now concentrating on a number of new projects and the England 2018 campaign is something we are sure he feels passionately about. Becoming an official ambassador for the bid is an honour for Paul and everyone here."

England players David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand, Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton, and musicians Noel Gallagher and Sting have all been recruited to back the bid, along with former Liverpool and England midfielder John Barnes.

"After his success during South Africa 2010, Paul is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in football,'' Barnes said. "I predict that huge numbers of people will follow Paul's lead and back the bid. Since our launch last year, more than a million football fans have officially shown their support, including some of England's most famous names.

"With the decision date fast approaching it's now more important than ever to get behind England 2018."

Russia, the United States, Australia, and joint bids from Spain and Portugal, and Holland and Belgium are all battling to host the tournament with the winners for both 2018 and 2022 announced on December 2.

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