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NFl's peter pan Older than Leo Varadkar, Brian O’Driscoll or Robbie Keane ...ageless Tom Brady is off to the Superbowl

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Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates their 31 to 26 win over the Green Bay Packers

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates their 31 to 26 win over the Green Bay Packers

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates their 31 to 26 win over the Green Bay Packers

If it is just another impossible number from Tom Brady's neon-lit, eternal career, it is one that slams into the chest as joltingly as a perfectly spiralled first down pass from America's Golden Arm.

Frank Lampard is younger than gridiron's eternal prince.

How on earth can that possibly be?

Lampard's second football life, one that trailed the better part of a decade after his decommissioning as Stamford Bridge's midfield shaper of destiny, is over, cut short by a thumbs down from a Russian as cold as the Siberian night.

Frank – ex-player, now an ex-manager, his world narrowing to the coordinates of a Sky Sports studio - is 42 years of age.

Younger by a year than the brilliant and resilient and miraculous quarterback who, in middle-age, declines to give up on that familiar centre-stage rush that arrives at the planet’s most unashamedly hyped afternoon of sporting theatre.

Tom Brady is off to Super Bowl LV, the classical numerals entirely appropriate for a Californian who some are convinced first announced his credentials at the Roman coliseum before Julius Caesar himself.

Peter Pan in a logoed helmet, uniquely resistant to the gravity that drags mortal humans down, Brady's epic grip on America's game is a glorious act of defiance against the tyranny of the passing years.

Six and a bit years shy of half-a-century, older than Leo Varadkar or Brian O’Driscoll or Robbie Keane, a listed building next to whom even Roger Federer or Stephen Cluxton resemble newbuilds, Brady stubbornly refuses to fade-to grey.

Custodian of more of those knuckleduster Super Bowl rings (six) than he has fingers on his throwing hand, his competitive juices continue to sizzle and fizz. There he is, still calling the plays, still firing killshots at that age when the highpoint of so many of his peers’ weekend afternoons is a visit to the local garden centre.

Last Sunday, he strapped himself into the most glamorous cockpit in all of sport and, one more time, did what he has been doing for fully two decades of a life less ordinary.

Brady led his new team, the perennially hopeless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to a stunning upset victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game.

In what is the de facto Super Bowl semi-final, the still fresh-faced and unmarked Methuselah, unruffled by the frigid Wisconsin winds that blow in from Lake Michigan, brought down the House of Lombardi.

Words Graeme Souness wrote in a weekend newspaper column addressing the potholes Liverpool are encountering in their title defence, seemed to echo across the January ocean.

"Human nature either spurs you on to your next trophy or makes you subconsciously relax after reaching a target. I've been there as a Liverpool player," he said.

"Getting there is bloody difficult, staying there is harder still. All of a sudden you're the champions and the expectation levels are enormous. Some players relish it, and some worry about it."

For Brady, competition is the sauce that gives life its flavour, the oxygen without which he would shrivel and die.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) and head coach Bruce Arians celebrate

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) and head coach Bruce Arians celebrate

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) and head coach Bruce Arians celebrate

His longevity, the trajectory of a career that has conquered rejection, authentic scandal and the undiluted loathing of a blue-collar America yearning for him to fail, is a star-spangled wonder.

Last spring's messy divorce from the Patriots, where he and his irritable coach Bill Belichick were twin emblems of the New England aristocrats’ disdainful, Machiavellian dynastic brilliance, seemed like an eviction notice from prime-time.

Heading to Tampa Bay was like a forty-something Messi relocating to West Ham or Sampdoria or Villareal and, in his first year, propelling them to the Champions League final.

But that's precisely the uprising Brady, slamming like a 20-stone defensive lineman into Father Time, has overseen.

A guy who was drafted as an afterthought, down with the deadwood at number 199, back in an era when the Twin Towers still loomed over Manhattan, continues to write an autobiography that refuses to meet its back cover.

Brady seemed to draw psychic fuel from scouting reports which deemed him faulty goods, dismissing him as a weak-armed phony who might struggle to fire a snowball the length of his front garden.

How to measure his ever-presence in American cultural life?

We could exaggerate and announce his first ever autograph decorates the Dead Sea Scrolls, or that prior to marrying the Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen he dated Cleopatra.

But the truth is far-fetched enough. His life needs no embellishment by fabrication.

And here he is, setting the pulse of the post-Trumpian United States racing once more.

At Lambeau Field last Sunday he was again the player Belichick described before the 2004 Super Bowl as equipped to "decode a defence with one glance after the snap of a ball."

As with the second coming of Tiger Woods, America's attitude to Brady is thawing.

If the Deflategate scandal is not forgotten, if some will never forgive him, and if it will always form a dark part of his legacy, it has been quietly set to one side by many who are mesmerized by this latest rebellion against logic.

On Sunday week, the Buccaneers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Tampa Bay are outsiders (6/4 against the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs' 8/15), but their ageless field-marshal has constructed an extraordinary life on the principle of laughing at the laws of mathematical probability.

And so, on Sunday week, Tom Brady will prime that golden arm and walk into the arena where time holds no sway, to unleash one more rifle-shot at the notion that, in the end, all men are mortal.

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