He didn’t see it coming – so we probably should have.
All that Kev the psychic chicken from Kiev wanted to do was predict football matches. It was all that Goal.com wanted him to do, too. But, spending the final weeks of his life with us as he did, he instead taught us a valuable and cautionary lesson about the perils of celebrity.
Our feathered friend’s road to the Euro 2012 spotlight was a long and winding one. Born on a farm in Hitchin, his peers were all more interested in clucking and laying eggs than foreseeing football results and he was ostracised.
They were unhappy times with no relief in sight, but after some time, in the late spring of 2010, Kev began to notice a mysterious stranger visiting the farm on several occasions. Eventually, just days before he and his contemporaries were due to be shipped off to the KFC production line, the young rooster was plucked out of his coop, handed a small envelope, and hurried out of the door.
Suddenly alone on a Hertfordshire road, Kev opened the envelope to find a letter. “I saw you pecking at an oat shaped like the face of Wayne Rooney on February 27, 2010,” it read. “The next day, he scored the winner in the League Cup final.
|THE GOAL LINE | JULY 2
|The last trip to Kev's farm after he called the final wrong
“Both of us know you have a gift. I’ve paid for your freedom - now go forth and share your nuggets of wisdom with the world.”
Kev didn’t need to be told twice. He took off to seek his fortune amid the glitz and glamour of the Premier League, but he found the football family surprisingly unwilling to break the mould by employing a member of the gallus genus.
Broken, unemployed and full of self-doubt, he half-heartedly scratched a living outside the ground of non-league team Hendon, tipping their results and taking bets against sceptical fans, but he struggled for confidence. As the World Cup began, however, word reached Kev of an all-seeing cephalopod sensei in Germany who was the master of animal predictions. Seeking spiritual and professional reaffirmation, he flew at once to the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen and met Paul the Octopus.
Paul immediately spotted a rare knowledgeable timbre to Kev’s rasping cluck and took him under his tentacle to hone his skills. The brainy bird remained Paul’s apprentice until his tragic death in October 2010, before he set out to continue his proud legacy.
To stay in the know before Euro 2012 arrived, the following month Kev accepted a role in the boardroom at Blackburn Rovers when poultry magnates Venky's took over the club. Though used as more of a brand ambassador than a football expert, Kev did his best to save the club from relegation by attempting an on-pitch team-talk in their crucial match against Wigan in May, but, noticing a hungry look on David Dunn's face, Yakubu opted to rescue him from the pitch instead and the club went down.
|Paul the Octopus spotted a rare knowledgeable timbre to Kev's rasping cluck and took him under his tentacle to hone his skills, until his tragic death in October 2010|
With his input unwisely ignored and the Euros round the corner, Kev clucked his goodbyes from Ewood Park, relocated to Kiev to give his talents free range, and made contact with Goal.com to offer his services as a psychic pundit for the tournament.
But, as we know, things did not go hentastically well for Kev during the finals as he struggled to coop under the Goal.com spotlight, finishing with only 13 correct picks out of 31. He incorrectly tipped Poland and Czech Republic to win on the opening day, and it all went downhill from there.
Despite improvements in the ‘Group of Death’ and the quarter-finals, in which he was 66 per cent and 75 per cent accurate respectively, his results were disappointing, and he came under pressure from a relentlessly demanding audience who expected better than the poultry predictions he was serving up.
|KEV'S LAST INTERVIEW
|Our psychic pundit speaks just days before his demise|
The Speckled One became the heckled one as commenter after commenter were baying for his blood, with variations on a theme of “it’s time for him to become my dinner” dominating responses to his daily appearances on The Goal Line.
Kev might have seemed reserved when calmly strolling up to flags on the farm every day, but in conversation, he was a completely different animal.
I was lucky enough to speak to him in the days leading up to his disastrous semi-final predictions and found him in fighting form, hitting out at players for “cocking up” rather than face up to his own fowl calls and threatening to “scramble” the faces of his critics. Indeed, for a chicken, he was surprisingly bullish.
As Kev spiralled into denial-fuelled fury, his predictions only got worse. First he tipped Portugal and Germany to reach the final, then, when proved wrong on both counts, he threw all his eggs into Italy’s basket. It was the final straw.
On the morning after Spain’s raucous celebrations, the Goal.com farm was deathly quiet. After their big star turned out to be hutch ado about nothing, the Goal Line team had had enough. Even Sian Welby, the glamorous presenter of the programme with whom Kev had shared a sizzling 'will-they-won't-they' sexual tension throughout the summer, had moved on.
In becoming the southern fried chicken that he had always been destined to be when born in that Hitchin coop, Kev showed us that fame and stardom will have you gobbled up sooner or later.
Far less fluffy a character than he appeared, few of us here at Goal.com could truly call Kev a friend, but we will never forget the lessons that he taught us - or how good he tasted with barbecue sauce.
Follow George Ankers on