Antonio Conte has claimed Romelu Lukaku would not be out of place playing American Football, as he hailed the Inter star's "atypical" style of play.

Lukaku has been in sensational form throughout his Inter career. Last season – his first campaign with the Serie A giants – he finished with 23 league goals; only Ronaldo (25) and Istvan Nyers (26) have scored more in their debut seasons with the Nerazzurri. 

The 27-year-old Belgium forward also netted 30 times across all competitions for the first time in his career, and equalled Ronaldo's record from 1997-98 of 34 goals for Inter.

Lukaku has also struck up a brilliant relationship with fellow forward Lautaro Martinez.

Indeed, across the opening 23 Serie A games this term, the duo have combined for 30 goals – Lukaku scoring 17 times and Martinez adding another 13. It is the first time Inter have a pair of players having combined for as many goals after as many matches since 1958-59.

Lukaku made his mark in last week's Milan derby, setting up Martinez's opener before sealing a dominant 3-0 victory with a sublime solo goal.

"It's too easy to say that," Conte told Il Corriere della Sera when it was put to him that some fans had described Lukaku as "unstoppable".

"I wish Lukaku and Lautaro were given more space inside the box. I don't think it's a good thing for defenders."

Lukaku, through his time with both Everton and Manchester United prior to his move to Inter, was often at his best driving at goal from deep.

In particular at Everton, his now-international boss Roberto Martinez occasionally used him on the right flank to good effect, giving Lukaku the freedom to burst inside at pace onto his stronger left foot.

And Conte believes Lukaku would have been able to make a career in American Football, such is his physique and power.

"Lukaku is an atypical player, he is a speedy centre forward, he could play American Football," Conte added.

Earlier in the week, Belgium boss Martinez spoke highly of Lukaku, who he managed for three seasons at Everton before his departure in 2016, though the Spaniard swiftly landed a job in charge of the striker's national team.

"He scores like few others," Martinez told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Create and score, create and score, create and score…

"He arrived in Milan at the perfect moment. He became a complete player, obviously thanks to Conte. Today, at his age, there are no strikers as strong as him.

"In the past, Romelu always had the potential to be able to do what he is demonstrating in Milan. For me it's not a surprise."

Matthew Stafford is excited to join the Los Angeles Rams, but he expected to end up playing with the Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers or Washington Football Team in 2021.

The 33-year-old quarterback left the Detroit Lions in a trade after representing the team for 12 years, with the Rams sending QB Jared Goff and a package of draft picks that contained two first-round selections in the other direction.

Stafford and the Lions agreed it was the best move as the team embarked on a rebuild after firing head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn towards the end of a 5-11 season in 2020.

The number one overall pick in 2009, Stafford leaves the Lions without having won a playoff game.

He hopes the chance to represent the Rams, who were in the Super Bowl at the end of the 2018 season, will give him a chance to play in the biggest NFL games.

Stafford should upgrade the QB position for Rams coach Sean McVay, but he was not expecting to join the likes of Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey in LA when his offseason began.

"I've always wanted to play in those big games," Stafford said to the Detroit Free Press. "I feel like I will excel in those situations. I wanted to shoot my shot.

"I thought [I would go to] all the places that everybody else thought. Indianapolis. San Francisco - although you didn't know what was gonna happen with Jimmy [Garoppolo] - Washington.

"But we obviously didn't know what was gonna happen there. I just didn't know how they [the Rams] would ever be able to [pull it off]. You know, I'm not a salary cap guru. It kind of got to a point where I'm like, 'OK, I can't sit there and go crazy'. I just tried to let it happen and LA aggressively jumped into it.

"I'm excited about their roster, their coaching staff, what they can bring to the table and their recent success."

Stafford initially thought he would never leave Detroit, but he came to realise a rebuild could be on the cards if the 2020 season did not meet expectations as the pressure grew on Patricia.

"To be honest, [my wife] Kelly and I probably started talking about it before last season," he said. "It was one of those where we were hoping, 'Golly, let's go, I hope this thing takes off and we play great'.

"But if it doesn't, you just knew what was going to happen. They were going to tear it down and rebuild.

"Anytime you switch GMs and a head coach, you know that they're going to want to bring their own people in, and that's going to take time. Frankly, I didn't feel like I was the appropriate person to oversee that time."

Stafford thought his ability would hinder the Lions' rebuild as he would win too many games to prevent them from topping the draft order.

He leaves with 45,109 passing yards, 282 touchdowns, 144 interceptions and 74 wins – all franchise QB records.

Stafford finishes with a record of 74-90-1, though, and with no NFC North titles after enduring three consecutive losing seasons between 2018 and 2020.

He added: "Sometimes it's not the perfect storybook ending in the same place, but I can leave here knowing that I gave this team every damn thing I had."

LeBron James was inspired by Tom Brady's latest Super Bowl achievement, but the Los Angeles Lakers star has no timetable regarding how much longer he plans to play in the NBA.

At the age of 43, Brady – considered by many as the greatest of all time – won a seventh ring after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl LV glory against the Kansas City Chiefs.

It means the superstar quarterback now has more rings than any NFL franchise and was particularly impressive given it was his first season with Tampa after a golden era playing for the New England Patriots.

James himself continues to dominate in the twilight years of his NBA career, and recorded a sublime triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists as the Lakers earned a 119-112 overtime win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.

Asked about Brady and his own career, James replied: "I mean he's one of the GOATs. 

"I've been watching him my whole life, or it seems like my whole life. I've been watching him 20 years now or however long he's been in the NFL. 

"I watched him when he was in Michigan, watched him quite a while now, just to see him go out and see the things he's done in his career, for him to win another one in the fashion that he won it was pretty cool. 

"It was very inspiring for a guy like myself. But it's two different sports, two different positions. I don't know how long I'll play the game, how much more I'll be able to give to the game. 

"But the way I feel right now, we'll see what happens. I have no timetable on it. I don't have no year of 30-this or 40-that. The game will let me know, we'll figure it out then."

The Lakers' win over the Thunder came just two days after the double-overtime triumph over the Detroit Pistons, following which James joked "my heart's not sustainable for two overtimes".

"It needed overtime in order for us to win this game," James added. "We did enough things to close in regulation but they forced us to take another five minutes. 

"I'm good with one! I get home a little earlier, my heart don't feel as bad it did the other night."

Serena Williams took inspiration from the "unbelievable" Tom Brady as she cruised into the second round of the Australian Open with a "vintage" performance.

Brady made yet more history on Sunday, the most successful player in NFL history winning a seventh Super Bowl as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.

The incredible Brady, 43, showed age is no barrier, throwing three touchdown passes – two of which were scored by his long-time friend Rob Gronkowski – and completing 21 of 29 throws for 201 yards.

Brady did now allow any interceptions as he picked up the MVP award at Raymond James Stadium.

Williams started her quest for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title with a 6-1 6-1 defeat of Laura Siegemund on Monday, then paid tribute to her fellow American Brady.

She said of his exploits: "It's unbelievable. I just was watching as much as I could to see. My only word is it's unbelievable. I kept saying: 'This is unbelievable, this is unreal'.

"You can't say it was the system he was at formerly [the New England Patriots]. It's definitely Tom Brady, he's Tom Brady. He's amazing."

Brady banished everyone from his house in the days leading up to the Super Bowl so he could fully focus on inspiring the Buccaneers to victory, but the 39-year-old Williams said she could never do the same as she would not want to be separated from her daughter, Olympia.

"I would not be able to go function without my three-year-old around," Williams said. "I think I would be in a depression.

"We've been together every day of her life, so... Is that healthy? Not at all! Not even close. But every single day I just want to be around her. It's great. Everyone's different.

"I can totally understand why he would banish because if I had the strength to do it, I would too.

"I could see it's definitely a distraction, especially every year that I've played except for the past few months, I finally am starting to get better at it. The first two and a half years was very difficult. I wasn't strong enough to do the banishment."

Williams, who will face Nina Stojanovic in the second round at Melbourne Park, was delighted with the manner in which she swept Siegemund aside and had no issues with her shoulder after withdrawing from a pre-tournament event citing an injury problem.

"This was a good start. Definitely vintage 'Rena'. It's definitely good. I think I'm pretty good at pacing myself in a grand slam," she said.

"I was happy just to get through it. Wasn't sure how my serve would be after a little bit of that shoulder, but it's feeling good, I'm feeling good. So, it felt really good.

"Last year was very crazy for the world, and to be able to do what I love and to be able to come out and compete and play at a grand slam, after the last 12 months, it makes me appreciate the moment even more."

Tom Brady claimed a seventh Super Bowl crown after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first Lombardi Trophy since the 2002 season with a dominant victory over defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is aiming to surpass "idol" Michael Jordan by winning his seventh Super Bowl ring.

No player has won more Super Bowl titles or appeared in more NFL showpieces than six-time champion Brady, who will lead the Buccaneers against reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

Chicago Bulls and NBA great Jordan also won six championship rings during his Hall of Fame basketball career.

As Brady stands on the cusp of a seventh Lombardi trophy, the 43-year-old superstar told reporters on Monday: "Michael [Jordan] is one of my sports idols.

"I think he's pretty incredible and for me it's just about being a part of great teams.

"To have the opportunity to play in this game means a lot to me. It's a lot of commitment and sacrifice by a lot of guys.

"Obviously we're one game away from the ultimate goal in this sport. I've been a part of that ultimate goal six other times so they are all different and have all meant something a little different to me. They've all been unique in their own way. 

"It would be cool to accomplish it this time, I don't compare them to the other times, those were all magical moment of my life and no one can ever take those away from me.

"Hopefully we can finish this season strong and win a Super Bowl. That's why we're here, that's why we're playing, to make for a really magical season for us."

Brady – who will go head-to-head with reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV on home soil – has more playoff wins since turning 35 (17) than any other quarterback has in his entire career, per Stats Perform.

Tampa Bay's Brady became the third player all-time with three-plus touchdown passes and three-plus interceptions in a conference championship game, joining Joe Montana (1981 NFC Championship) and Mark Malone (1984 AFC Championship), after the Buccaneers topped the Green Bay Packers in the NFC decider.

The 31-26 win in Green Bay was also the fourth time Brady has thrown three-plus interceptions in a playoff game, and his teams are 3-1 in those matchups (most such wins all-time) – his sides are 0-9 when he has three-plus interceptions in a regular-season game.

It was the 20th occasion Brady has led his team to 30-plus points in a postseason game – no other player has even half that total (second is Troy Aikman with nine). Brady's teams are 18-2 in those games.

Brady will feature in his 10th Super Bowl – the next most by a player is six by Mike Lodish and Stephen Gostkowski, after the Buccaneers became the fifth team all-time to win three road games in a single postseason.

LeBron James compared his achievements with the Los Angeles Lakers to Tom Brady's early success at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the legendary quarterback prepares for his latest Super Bowl appearance.

James, a four-time champion and four-time MVP in the NBA, led the Lakers to the title last year in just his second season in LA.

Meanwhile, Brady is in his first year in Tampa Bay, having ended a glittering career with the New England Patriots, and has taken the Bucs to next week's big game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

James turned 36 last month but is still averaging an impressive 25.2 points per game in 2020-21, a mark he has not dipped below since his rookie season in 2003-04.

Meanwhile, Brady – a three-time NFL MVP chasing a seventh championship – is now 43 yet ended the regular season with 40 touchdowns, the second best return of his career, and a passer rating of 102.2.

Neither man shows signs of slowing and James was asked on Saturday what he made of the continued excellence of a fellow sporting great.

"It doesn't do anything for me as far as what I do in my profession, but it does let me know – lets both of us know – that we can still play this game at a high level," James said after the Lakers' 96-95 win at the Boston Celtics.

"No matter how many miles, how many games, no matter how many dollars, no matter the statistics – in our respective professions, at our age, we can still dominate our sport.

"Also we can bring together groups that we may have not been around for long periods of time.

"It's our professionalism, how we attack the sport, how we attack every single day of being a professional, wanting to win every single day – in practice, on the film, in games, and so on and so on.

"We gravitate towards people and people gravitate towards us because we have one common goal and that's to win and to win at the highest level."

James had 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against the Celtics, ending the Lakers' first two-game losing streak of the season with his 854th career win – outright eighth on the all-time list.

"We didn't want to lose one and we lost two in a row, Philly and Detroit," he said, with the Lakers at Atlanta next in the final game of a seven-game road trip.

"We understood we were coming into a hostile environment and we know how good this team is.

"We'd have to play good basketball in order to win and we were able to win one possession more than they did."

Those fine margins came as Kemba Walker missed a game-winning chance for the Celtics in the final seconds, capping a dismal night on which he shot 1-of-12 from the field and 0-of-5 from three.

Walker scored only four points in just over 28 minutes; it was the seventh time in his career he had scored no more than four points in at least 28 minutes in the regular season.

"I thought I had a good look [on the final shot] but I struggled all game shooting the basketball," Walker said.

He added: "It's more mental, I think. I'm trying my hardest not to get frustrated but I thought tonight I got frustrated at myself and it put me in a bad place.

"I'm not the type of player to get frustrated – I'm always smiling and I wasn't that tonight. I got into my own head and, mentally, I hurt myself.

"I can't do that to this team. These guys look to me, especially when things are going tough. I can't put my head down and not mentally be engaged in the game like I was tonight."

RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann said football and the NFL can learn from each other as he revealed his admiration for the Green Bay Packers.

Nagelsmann – one of Europe's finest tacticians – said he is a fan of American football after hailing the "extraordinary" discipline of the league's players.

As Aaron Rodgers and the Packers prepare to face Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, Leipzig boss Nagelsmann insisted the two sports can learn from each other.

"Our general manager Timmo Hardung is a huge Green Bay Packers fan, so that's rubbed off on me a bit," Nagelsmann told reporters ahead of Leipzig's match against Union Berlin on Wednesday.

"My heart beats for them a bit, their history is very interesting and different to most of the other clubs in the NFL."

Nagelsmann added: "It's a very interesting sport. And I think we can learn a lot from American football in soccer, and our players can learn a lot from it as well. Especially in terms of their discipline in studying and executing the team's playbook. I definitely think that's an area that soccer can improve on.

"The game is based on an unbelievable number of plays, and the players have to understand a lot of specific terms and then act accordingly out on the field. They have to do all that extremely quickly, which is extraordinary."

"You could see in the games that there were one or two tricks – I'd like to see a bit more of that. 'Hitch and Pitch' I think it's called. That worked quite well in the play-offs a couple of times," he continued.

"So American Football can learn from football, but definitely vice versa too. And if any NFL coaches would like to have a chat about it all, feel free to get in touch!"

Leipzig – Champions League semi-finalists last season – are third and four points adrift of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich after 16 matches in 2020-21.

The Philadelphia Eagles have fired head coach Doug Pederson, according to reports.

Pederson had been said to be meeting with owner Jeffrey Lurie to outline his plans for the future, with his position thought to hinge on that discussion.

It seems he failed to convince Lurie and the franchise hierarchy to keep him in the post, with NFL Media's Tom Pelissero first reporting his firing.

Pederson, who took over in 2016, led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title in his second season at the helm.

Philadelphia's first Lombardi Trophy came at the end of a storied playoff run, in which unheralded backup Nick Foles led them to glory after then-MVP candidate Carson Wentz suffered a serious knee injury.

The Eagles overcame the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII but Wentz's struggles to recapture his 2017 form following his comeback from injury played a significant role in Philadelphia's failure to scale the same heights in Pederson's subsequent three seasons.

Pederson oversaw playoff campaigns in 2018 and 2019, the latter despite a roster decimated by injury.

However, he attracted increased criticism amid a dismal 2020 season that saw a sharp decline from Wentz, who was eventually benched and forced to watch the final few weeks of a 4-11-1 year from the sideline.

His replacement, rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts, was one of the few bright spots for Philadelphia. The controversial in-game benching of Hurts in favour of Nate Sudfeld for the Week 17 loss to the Washington Football Team saw Pederson placed under further scrutiny as he faced accusations of overt tanking for draft position.

Pederson had claimed he made the move to evaluate Sudfeld, but the future at quarterback in Philadelphia is now a matter for his successor and general manager Howie Roseman.

In five seasons with the Eagles, Pederson compiled a 42-37-1 record in the regular season. He went 4-2 in the playoffs.

Russell Westbrook, Doc Rivers and Billie Jean King reacted with revulsion to the assault on the US Capitol by supporters of outgoing president Donald Trump, united in the view there would have been a deadlier outcome had the rioters been black people.

On a dark day for the United States, thousands of Trump backers descended on Washington for a protest rally, refusing to accept the result of November's election that saw Joe Biden sweep to power.

Two weeks out from Biden's inauguration, many violent protesters breached security and accessed the Capitol, causing carnage and destruction as they appeared to go largely unchallenged.

There were a number of casualties, with four dead including a woman who was shot, while reports said a number of explosive devices were discovered.

Washington Wizards star Westbrook said: "It's very unfortunate to see. If those roles were reversed, if those were African-Americans, black people, it would be totally different."

He said the chaos was "just crazy, almost like a movie", and team-mate Bradley Beal agreed it was hard to stomach the scenes, given his view that police took a far less lenient approach to protesters during last year's Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

"It's very disheartening in a lot of ways - a lack of sense of urgency to respond to what was going on, versus protesters at Black Lives Matter over the summer," Beal said.

"The people who were invading our Capitol, that's unheard of and it's disheartening this is where we're at as a country."

Veteran Philadelphia 76ers coach Rivers called the insurgency "pretty disturbing" but vowed that "democracy will prevail".

"It shows a lot, though," Rivers said. "When you saw the [Black Lives Matter] protests in the summer, you saw the riots or more the police and the national guard and the army. And then you see this and you saw nothing.

"It basically proves the point about a privileged life in a lot of ways. I'll say it because I don’t think a lot of people want to: could you imagine today if those were all black people storming the Capitol and what would have happened?

"So that to me is a picture that’s worth a thousand words for all of us to see and probably something for us to reckon with again."

Tennis great King, a long-time activist for equality in sport and society, added on Twitter: "If the rioters storming the Capitol building today were Black and Brown people, the police response would be much different."

Footballer Megan Rapinoe became embroiled in a war of words with Trump during USA's triumph at the 2019 Women's World Cup.

Looking at footage of how seemingly easily the protesters were able to break into the Capitol, Rapinoe offered her opinion, writing: "This is crazy, how did they even get through the..... ohhhhh it was opened for them."

Trump had addressed the crowds earlier in the day, forcefully standing by his view that he was fraudulently robbed of an election win.

In the hours after the Capitol was cleared, Congress confirmed Biden's victory.

Richard Sherman, the San Francisco 49ers cornerback, described the rioters as "terrorists".

He wrote on Twitter: "Never thought Americans would let terrorists into the capital without a fight....sad day. There are certain things my brain could never imagine.... and one of them is black ppl storming a government building and taking things without deadly consequences. But that’s just my brain."

It was not just Sherman's brain thinking along those lines, though. Far from it.

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard took the same stance, saying: "You just see the privilege, the privilege in America. "It's sad to see, because if any of us was out there, I think we would've been tear-gassed, Maced, probably gunshots, you know?"

And American track and field legend Michael Johnson said the scenes were only to be expected, given the nature of the Trump presidency.

"The alarms were sounded for four years. Republicans ignored them. Many in the media ignored them and normalized dangerous behavior," Johnson wrote on Twitter.

"Sadly, today it all came to be. Shameful! This president and his supporters. Shame on you! And take responsibility!

"People on Twitter (of course) literally equating BLM protesters fighting for justice and equality to White Supremacist Trump supporters (supposed Patriots) gleefully and violently desecrating America's oldest and greatest institutions of democracy. Sadly, this is typical America."

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