A cucumber in Finland has been gaining hundreds of followers on social media after correctly predicting the outcome of many of the matches in the Euro 2016 football championships so far.
The fortune-telling cucumber’s owner, who identifies himself only as Ilari so as not to divert attention away from his vegetable, says he was out and about in Helsinki when he spotted the watery gourd lying by the side of the path.
He took it home and began making predictions for matches by spinning the cucumber between the names of the two competing teams before each meeting.
”The cucumber predicts the winner by pointing at it with its end that has the price tag. If the cucumber doesn’t point towards either team, that means the result’s going to be a draw.”
A photo of the prophecy goes up on the cucumber’s Facebook page ahead of each of the day’s three matches.
Not quite right every time
At the time of going to press, the soothsaying salad staple had made eight predictions, correctly picking the winning team of five matches. With the remainder, the cucumber’s agent insists the lengthy legume’s predictions were misinterpreted.
After having wrongly predicted a win for Ireland over Sweden, a post on the clairvoyant cucumber’s Facebook page read: ”I foresaw two Ireland goals, but my interpreters didn’t understand that one was going into their own net,” referring to a second-half own goal by defender Ciaran Clark, leading to a 1-1 draw.
For another of the matches, England V Russia, which also ended 1-1, opinions are divided over whether the cucumber’s slight leaning towards Russia was an incorrect prediction of a Russian victory, or just a hint towards the team’s shock equaliser in the second minute of injury time.
The cucumber’s success has drawn comparisons with Paul the Octopus, who rose to international fame during the Euro 2008 tournament and the 2010 World Cup Finals for correctly predicting the outcome of most of Germany’s matches.
However, whereas Paul the Octopus met his end in October 2010 aged two-and-a-half, a normal lifespan for an octopus, the fortune-telling cucumber faces a far more immediate problem: Ilari's cuke may start to go bad before the end of the Euros, which continue for some weeks.
Admitting that he has pondered whether to take the plastic wrapping off to try and prolong its life, Ilari says he is undaunted by the vegetable’s inevitable deterioration. ”This is an exceptional cucumber in every way. The team that looks after it is sure that the cucumber will only get better with age.”