Oberhausen: Paul the Octopus has turned into a global superstar revolving around the 2010 World Cup, with top political leaders in Spain even worried about the oracle mussel-eater`s safety.
Football players, fans and politicians turned into believers of the Paul phenomenon after the psychic octopus correctly picked the winner of yet another World Cup match involving the German national team.
From his tank at Aquarium Sea Life in Oberhausen, the formerly England-based Paul predicted Spain would beat Germany in the semifinals after having chosen Germany wins over Australia, Ghana, England and Argentina and a loss against Serbia.
`This Paul is a miracle,` said Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso after the team`s semifinal win.
Paul has become a star around the world, appearing on Australian television, CNN, BBC, the Washington Post, the New York Times and dozens of sports papers. The German news channel ntv even carried Paul`s selection between Germany and Spain live with two reporters doing commentary.
The Twitter account `Pulpo Paul` is one of the most-searched in the charts. And there are a number of fan pages on Facebook - mostly from Spain.
Now fans from Spain and the Netherlands are both anxiously awaiting Paul`s prediction for the final.
His handlers however will first Friday morning at 11 am (9 a.m. GMT) have Paul pick Germany`s encounter with Uruguay in the third place game.
Two glass cubes are baited with mussels and marked with flags of Germany and Uruguay. The mussel Paul chooses first is viewed by his handlers as his prediction.
While Spanish football supporters are in heaven about La Roja reaching their first World Cup final, politicians are worried about irate - if not idiotic - German fans who blame Paul for their team`s 0-1 loss against Spain in the World Cup semis.
`That crazy octopus was right. Calamares for everyone,` yelled a customer at a Greek restaurant in Frankfurt.
Even before the match, the german Westfaelische Rundschau paper had Paul on the front page on Wednesday after his semifinal prediction, accompanied by a one-word verdict: `Traitor.`
No wonder Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is fearful of Paul`s health.
`We will send Paul a team of bodyguards,` he said after Spain`s win over Germany.
And Environment Minister Elena Espinosa would like to file for endangered species status so that Germans do not eat Paul.
Followers in the Netherlands are also anxious of Paul`s prediction. The mass daily De Telegraaf said there is only one question mark remaining, writing: `Octopus promise: Oranje Champion?`
The paper`s online edition came up with an urgent Internet news item including a picture in which Paul had tipped the Netherlands. The so-called `photo evidence` showed Paul opening the case with the red-white-blue flag.
The daily later said it was a fake and added: `We cannot get too happy too early.`