After Lewis Hamilton’s dramatic departure from Mercedes to Ferrari was revealed, check out some of the other surprising transfers that shocked the sports world.
Ferrari announced on Thursday that the seven-time world champion will drive for the Italian team starting in 2025, breaking a 12-year relationship with Mercedes.
Hamilton’s move comes as a huge surprise because he only signed an extension to his Mercedes contract five months prior, which was stated at the time would keep him with the team until the end of 2025.
The transfer is without a doubt the biggest since Hamilton switched from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013, and it will go down as one of the most dramatic in Formula 1 history.
Football and a few other sports have seen some memorable movements throughout the years, even if Hamilton kind of stole the show on the Premier League’s transfer deadline day.
Sol Campbell across north London
For supporters of the Premier League, Sol Campbell’s 2001 decision to cross the boundary between Tottenham and Arsenal in north London comes to mind immediately.
The England defender, who captained Spurs to a League Cup victory in 1999, had already become something of a White Hart Lane legend at the age of 26.
Campbell had failed to agree a contract extension to a deal that had run into its final months but had also publicly insisted he would not be leaving the club, which convinced the board not to cash in by selling him in the summer of 2000.
The board was persuaded not to cash in by selling Campbell in the summer of 2000 since he had not only publicly stated he would not be leaving the club but also had failed to agree to a contract extension to a term that had gone into its final months.
The Tottenham fans may have finally forgiven Campbell for his connections to Manchester United and some of the top clubs in Europe.
Spurs supporters could not have imagined what happened next, when Campbell decided to sign a free move to Arsenal, Spurs’ fiercest rivals.
A few months later, when Campbell made his debut for Arsenal at White Hart Lane, there was an inevitable hostile atmosphere, with banners with the words “Judas” hung high around the pitch.
Although Campbell has since disclosed that the hatred he received from Spurs fans during his career still bothers him, he did win two league titles at Highbury, the second of which came while he was a member of Arsenal’s 2003–04 Invincibles.
Figo betrays Barça to move to Real Madrid
There aren’t many rivalries in sports that compare to the one between Real Madrid and Barcelona, the dominant teams in Spanish football. Because of this, it is very uncommon for players—especially those who are highly regarded—to transfer straight between clubs.
That is exactly what Portuguese sensation Luis Figo did in the summer of 2000, giving up his hero status in Catalunya to go to the Spanish capital for a then-record €62 million after Real Madrid fulfilled a buyout clause in his contract.
Figo won two La Liga titles and a Champions League while playing for Real Madrid, but he may have second-guessed his choice after seeing the reaction he got when he returned to Camp Nou.
He gave up his custom of taking corners in order to avoid being in close proximity to the enraged people during his debut game there as a Madrid player due to the amount of hatred.
Figo and others were gravely mistaken to believe that Barcelona supporters would have subsided by the time Figo made his comeback in 2002. Despite his bravery in performing set-piece duties, the referee decided to halt play for twenty minutes after he was hit by projectiles fired from the fans.
In the end, the folklore surrounding this unforgettable transfer would grow when photos surfaced showing that one of the items tossed into the pitch was a pig’s severed head.
Tom Brady leaves Patriots after 20 years
Tom Brady is regarded as an inspiration by many, including Hamilton, who has changed his career late in life, much like the renowned NFL quarterback.
Following two decades with the New England Patriots, where he helped the team win six Super Bowls, Brady, at forty-two, transferred his skills to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For a while, it seemed like the relationship would only end when Brady retired, but NFL fans were taken aback when head coach Bill Belichick seemed to lose faith in Brady’s abilities.
Hamilton, though, will truly want to imitate what Brady accomplished after that.
Brady unexpectedly guided the Bucs to the Super Bowl in his first season there, overcoming the odds to defeat highly anticipated teams like the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints on the road.
This led to a meeting with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, against whom Brady put on a legendary show by tossing three touchdown passes to secure a commanding 31-9 victory.
Though he quickly withdrew his off-season retirement, Hamilton’s next two seasons were marred by disappointment rather than success, it seems unlikely that he would have settled for one more championship in his last year.
Michael Jordan switches basketball for baseball
Moving a team or tour is one thing, but when Michael Jordan gave up basketball in 1993 to focus on his professional baseball career, that’s when it reached a whole new level.
After leading the Chicago Bulls to a third straight NBA championship, Jordan was the unchallenged monarch of the league when he made the shocking statement to the world’s sports fans.
Jordan, 30, claimed that months after the assassination of his father, James Jordan, he had lost interest in playing basketball. In addition, he had been plagued for months by rumours of compulsive gambling.
Although he was unable to compete at the highest level in baseball, the venture may have been worthwhile because it allowed him to get away from the pressure of being an NBA player.
His return was almost as spectacular as his departure. Jordan’s return to the Bulls was confirmed in a two-word press statement that stated, “I’m back,” in March 1995.
Even though he was unable to perform a miracle and win the team the championship that season, he would go on to win three more straight titles and establish himself as the best player in the history of the game.
Rahm secures the bag at LIV Golf
A changeover that could play a significant role in determining the direction of men’s professional golf is still being settled upon.
The world No. 3 was convinced to leave the PGA Tour by the Saudi-funded LIV Golf League, which had created a lot of buzz and drawn some of the finest players in the world. This was the kind of breakthrough the league had been waiting for.
The 29-year-old Spaniard went on live US television to defend his choice after reaching an agreement on a deal reportedly worth up to £450 million.
Rahm made a U-turn by switching teams, as he had earlier stated that he disliked the LIV format and that the money he would receive from joining the league supported by Saudi Arabia would “not change his lifestyle”.
After a few months, Rahm gave this explanation: “I’ve seen the growth of LIV Golf and the innovation, and I’ve seen a lot of changes in the game of golf over the past two years.”
“I am here today for that reason. I made this choice based on a number of factors, including what I felt would be best for me. Please understand that this is a big deal.”
It will be interesting to see how Rahm’s move plays out as the PGA Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund continue to negotiate a means to guarantee that the world’s best players are not kept from competing regularly.
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