Bubi wins Helsinki Resident of the Year accolade
In a move that will doubtless delight all who witnessed his magificent performance in June, Bubi the eagle owl has been chosen as the Helsinki Resident of the Year for 2007.
Normally reserved for humans, the award this time goes to a specimen of Bubo bubo who is allegedly on the population register at the Olympic Stadium, although he is not thought actually to have a nest there.
The prize, given annually by an association of metro-desk journalists, is not this time just a quirky decision in the absence of more pressing human candidates, for Bubi really could make a good case for being the capital’s most famous resident this year. Urban owls have been a major talking point in 2007.
However, Bubi’s biggest triumph took place on a sunny summer's evening in front of a packed house of football fans at the Stadium.
As many will certainly recall, especially if they were present in person, Bubi’s arrival on the pitch when Finland were playing Belgium in a Euro 2008 qualifying match in June was an international sensation.
The fearless bird, whose mass and wingspan commanded considerable respect even from the hardest footballing hard men, held up the game for several minutes, during which time it treated the 35,000 spectators to a display of low flying and obstinate goalpost-sitting.
It was instantaneously adopted as the mascot for the Finnish national team, which went on to win the match 2-0.
Arguably the Belgians were so confused by the spectacle of an eagle owl on the field of play that they took their eye off the ball.
The "Owl Stops Play" headlines were in any event far too good for the international media to pass up, and Bubi’s fame spread far and wide.
His absence at subsequent home games was a source of regret almost as much as Finland’s inability to score goals and eventually qualify for Euro 2008.
The award carries with it a signed lithograph by artist Tuula Juuti. Since the recipient’s precise home address is not known, the artwork will be hung up in the Olympic Stadium.
Previously in HS International Edition:
One big beautiful bird (12.6.2007)