Hamilton to Ferrari: Which other sporting switches have stunned fans?


Following the announcement of Lewis Hamilton’s blockbuster move from Mercedes to Ferrari, take a look at some of the other shocking switches that have stunned the sporting world.

Ferrari confirmed on Thursday that the seven-time world champion will end a 12-year partnership with Mercedes to drive for the Italian team in 2025.

With Hamilton having only five months ago signed an extension to his Mercedes contract, said at the time to be keeping him with the team until the end of 2025, his switch comes as a monumental surprise.

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Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou joked with reporters about the Deadline Day signing that got away… Lewis Hamilton!

The move will go down as one of the most spectacular in Formula 1 history, and is undoubtedly the most significant since Hamilton went from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013.

While Hamilton somewhat stole the headlines on the Premier League’s transfer Deadline Day, football and several other sports, have some moves of their own to remember over the years…

Sol Campbell crosses north London

The first move that springs to mind for Premier League fans is Sol Campbell’s decision to cross the north London divide between Tottenham and Arsenal in 2001.

At the age of 26, the England defender had already established near-legendary status at White Hart Lane, having captained Spurs to a League Cup triumph in 1999.

Tottenham fans held up Judus signs as Sol Campbell returned to White Hart Lane with Arsenal
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Tottenham fans held up Judus signs as Sol Campbell returned to White Hart Lane with Arsenal

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.

There were links to Manchester United and some of the best clubs in Europe, moves which the Tottenham faithful may have ultimately forgiven Campbell for.

What was to follow was unimaginable for Spurs fans, with Campbell choosing to join Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal on a free transfer.

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Sol Campbell joined Jamie Redknapp ahead of the North London derby to look back on his memories of this huge fixture

There was an inevitably hostile atmosphere when Campbell made his first Arsenal appearance at White Hart Lane a few months later, with banners reading “Judas” held up around the ground.

While Campbell suffered career-long abuse from Spurs fans that he has recently explained still troubles him, he did claim two league titles at Highbury, the second as part of Arsenal’s Invincibles of 2003-04.

Brady departs the Patriots after 20 years

Hamilton has often spoken of Tom Brady being an inspiration for him, and the Brit has somewhat followed in the footsteps of the legendary NFL quarterback by making a late-career change.

After 20 years with the New England Patriots, during which he led the franchise to six Super Bowl victories, a then 42-year-old Brady took his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Tom Brady was emotional after having his jersey retired by the New England Patriots at half-time of their home opener against Philadelphia

It was a partnership that it had long appeared would only come to an end once Brady retired, but an apparent loss of faith in his ability from head coach Bill Belichick left NFL fans stunned.

However, it’s what Brady did next that Hamilton will really want to emulate.

In his first season with the Bucs, Brady remarkably led his side to the Super Bowl, defying outsider status to win away against much-fancied New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers squads.

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Highlights of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV

That set up a clash with the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs, which in which Brady produced a vintage display, throwing three touchdown passes, to seal a comfortable 31-9 victory.

While his subsequent two seasons, interrupted by a swiftly retracted off-season retirement, failed to bring further glory, there is little doubt Hamilton would settle for one more championship in his final chapter.

Rahm makes big-money move to LIV Golf

The dust is still settling on a switch that may prove crucial in shaping the future of men’s professional golf.

Having made a lot of noise and attracted some of the best players in the world, the Saudi-funded LIV Golf League finally made the type of capture it had been desperate for by persuading the world No 3 to depart the PGA Tour.

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Watch the winning putt as Jon Rahm became 2023 Masters champion with a par on the 72nd hole at Augusta National

After agreeing a deal understood to be worth up to £450m, the 29-year-old Spaniard went onto live US television to explain his decision.

The switch represented a U-turn from Rahm, who had previously said that he did not like the LIV format and the financial gains on offer for joining the Saudi-backed league would “not change his lifestyle”.

Fast-forward several months, and Rahm explained: “Things have changed a lot in the game of golf over the past two years and I’ve seen the growth of LIV Golf and the innovation.

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Butch Harmon believes Jon Rahm’s departure might increase the urgency of the PGA Tour to form their Framework Agreement with LIV Golf

“That’s why I’m here today. This decision was made for many reasons and what I thought was best for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great deal.”

With negotiations ongoing between the PGA Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund over finding a way to ensure the best players in the world are not prevented from competing on a regular basis, it remains to be seen how Rahm’s move will shake out.

Figo incurs wrath of Barcelona fans after Real move

There are few rivalries in sport that can compete with that between Spanish footballing giants Barcelona and Real Madrid. For that reason, it is extremely rare for players, particularly beloved ones, to move directly from one club to the other.

Portuguese star Luis Figo did just that in the summer of 2000, giving up his hero status in Catalunya to make a then world-record €62m move to the Spanish capital after Real met a buyout clause in his contract.

While Figo enjoyed plenty of success on the field in Madrid, winning two LaLiga titles and a Champions League, the reception he received upon his returns to the Camp Nou may have had him questioning the wisdom of his decision.

Luis Figo was pelted by missiles, including a pig's head, as he played at the Camp Nou for Real Madrid
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Luis Figo was pelted by missiles, including a pig’s head, as he played at the Camp Nou for Real Madrid

The level of hostility during his first game there playing for Madrid saw him give up his usual corner-taking responsibilities to avoid being in close proximity to the furious locals.

If Figo, or anyone else, thought Barcelona fans may have calmed down by the time he returned again in 2022, they were very wrong. This time braving set-piece duty, he was pelted by missiles from the stands, leading the referee to suspend the game for 20 minutes.

Photos would later emerge revealing that among the objects thrown onto the pitch was the severed head of a pig, which would ultimately add to the legend of this memorable transfer.

Jordan quits the NBA to pursue baseball career

It’s one thing moving team or tour, but Michael Jordan took it to another level in 1993 when he quit basketball to pursue a career in professional baseball.

Jordan was the undisputed king of the NBA, having just led the Chicago Bulls to a third successive title, when his announcement stunned sports fans all over the world.

Michael Jordan celebrates after the Chicago Bulls beat the Phoenix Suns to complete the first three-peat in the summer of 1993
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Michael Jordan celebrates after the Chicago Bulls beat the Phoenix Suns to complete the first three-peat in the summer of 1993

At the age of 30, Jordan said that he had lost his desire to play basketball months after his father, James Jordan, had been murdered. He had also been dogged for months over reports of excessive gambling.

The foray into baseball wasn’t successful on the field, as he failed to reach the sport’s top level, but perhaps served its purpose as he was able to escape the intensity that came with his NBA status.

Almost as spectacular as his exit was his return. “I’m back,” read a two-word press release confirming Jordan was back with the Bulls in March 1995.

Michael Jordan
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Jordan failed to match his basketball achievements in baseball

While he couldn’t produce a miracle of leading the team to the title that season, three more successive triumphs would follow to secure his status as the greatest player the sport has ever seen.

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