The number 4 shirt is usually associated with a centre-back like Sergio Ramos or a deep-lying playmaker like Spaniard Cesc Fabregas, who holds the number 4 shirt for Chelsea at the moment, but who else has worn it in blue in recent history?
We go back to the 90s and Dutch all-rounder Ruud Gullit donned the number 4 at Stamford Bridge for a few years and became a cult hero as a player and manager during the final years of his career. Gullit scored 4 goals for Chelsea in 3 years as a player which included 2 years as a player-manager. Before joining Chelsea in 1995, Gullit had won the European Cup twice, a European Championship and a Ballon D’Or. The silverware didn’t stop there for Gullit as he guided Chelsea to an FA Cup triumph in 1997 as manager and was named Chelsea Player of the Year in his first season for the Blues.
Following brief spells with Steve Clark and Jes Hogh, the number 4 ended up with Frenchman Claude Makelele when he joined Chelsea in 2003 as the Abramovich era really took off. Makelele had already won various honours before joining Chelsea such as the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2002. Makelele was a huge success at Chelsea in his holding midfield role and won 2 Premier Leagues under Jose Mourinho, the first one being Chelsea’s first league title in 50 years. He was also named in the FIFPro World XI in 2005, being voted in by his fellow players and that really shows how highly he was rated.
The shirt was free for a few years before a certain flamboyant Brazilian arrived at Stamford Bridge, one with long, curly hair. Chelsea signed David Luiz from Benfica for around £22m in 2011 and the centre-half was a big fan favourite at Stamford Bridge but was quite inconsistent. His passionate and creative style of play was great to watch but his defensive ability was questioned by many pundits only for Luiz to prove them wrong in his second spell at Chelsea in the number 30 shirt. During his time as Chelsea’s number 4, Luiz won the Champions League, the FA Cup and the Europa League. Luiz played the Champions League final in Munich through injury and scored in the shoot-out as Chelsea won their first title.
In 2014, Luiz left for Paris and Chelsea brought in former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona. During his 3 seasons in West London, Fabregas has been a big success, winning 2 Premier League titles and a League Cup. Fabregas played a huge part in Chelsea’s title win in 2015, providing 18 assists, most of them being for Diego Costa. The number 4’s involvement in Chelsea’s starting 11 has decreased recently but his influence as a world-class player hasn’t. Last season, he set up 11 goals for his team mates despite not starting many games in Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation but he is still a massive favourite with the crowd at Chelsea.