Soccer Players With The Number 4 (The Best!)

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Central defenders, who guard the backline, wear the number 4 shirt. Many famous center backs have worn this number, from harsh tacklers to ball-playing stoppers. This page features some of the best number 4 players and their performance at the highest level.

Whether playing in the World Cup, Champions League, or domestic competitions, these defenders define number 4. These guys, from Baresi and Beckenbauer who won it all to Ramos and Kompany who keep lifting the bar, built championship teams with outstanding defense and leadership. Their stories show how generational players have donned the number 4 shirt and influenced periods with their towering defensive skills and trophies. We take a look at:

  • Life and talent in soccer
  • Milestones at different clubs and internationally
  • Personal recognition and accolades

The Best Soccer Players To Wear Number 4

Soccer players who wear the number 4 jersey are usually central defenders, and there are a few special ones on this list. Surprisingly, there are also midfielders and a striker wearing number 4.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is widely considered to be one of the best defenders of his time. The center-back captained Real Madrid to a record 22 La Liga titles and four Champions League triumphs, among other accolades. Ramos was a ferocious tackler as well as an offensive danger, scoring over 100 goals as a defender.

Stats:

  • Date of Birth: March 30, 1986
  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Teams Played for:
    • Sevilla: 2003-2005
    • Real Madrid: 2005-2021
    • Paris Saint-Germain: 2021-2023
    • Sevilla: 2023 – present
  • Positions Played: Defender
  • Trophies Won:
    • FIFA World Cup: 2010
    • UEFA European Championship: 2008, 2012
    • La Liga: 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2011-2012, 2016-2017
    • Copa del Rey: 2010-2011, 2013-2014
    • Supercopa de España: 2008, 2012, 2017
    • UEFA Champions League: 2013-2014, 2015-2016, 2016-2017, 2017-2018
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
    • FIFA Club World Cup: 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
  • Other Significant Achievements:
    • FIFA FIFPro World XI: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
    • La Liga Best Defender: 2011-2012, 2014-2015, 2016-2017
    • UEFA Defender of the Season: 2017-2018
    • La Liga Team of the Season: 2011-2012, 2014-2015, 2016-2017
Sergio Ramos of Paris Saint Germain Fc during the Uefa Champions League Group H match beetween Juventus Fc and Paris Saint Germain Fc at Allianz Stadium on November 2 2022 in Turin Italy ○ Soccer Blade
Sergio Ramos of Paris Saint-Germain Fc during the Uefa Champions League Group H game between Juventus Fc and Paris Saint-Germain Fc at Allianz Stadium on November 2, 2022 in Turin, Italy.

His 93rd-minute header in the 2014 Champions League final gave Madrid La Decima. Internationally, he guided Spain to World Cup triumphs in 2010, Euro 2008, and 2012, forging a strong partnership with Pique. He joined PSG after leaving Real Madrid in 2022, where he continued to demonstrate his enduring quality and expertise. In 2023 he returned to his first team Seville making a full cycle of his illustrious career. Off the field, Ramos is lauded for his leadership abilities.

While his competitive nature occasionally caused criticism, Ramos’ place among Real Madrid and Spain icons is secure. He reimagined what it meant to be a modern defender, contributing as much in the final third as he did in his own box. Ramos’ longevity is particularly impressive given his hard playing style, as he is still playing at the highest level in his late 30s. Sergio Ramos, widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the game’s history, remained a winner who thrived.

He stayed at Real Madrid for 16 seasons and was the captain for six seasons. Moreover, he is considered among the greatest defenders and captains ever. He has won 22 major titles at Real Madrid, including five La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League. Internationally, he represented Spain at four World Cups and won the 2010 World Cup. He also represented his country in three European Championships, winning in 2008 and 2012.

Best TACKLES AND BLOCKS | Sergio Ramos x Real Madrid

Patrick Vieira

Patrick Viera is the current manager of the Premier League club Crystal Palace. In his playing days, he was a dominating box-to-box midfielder. He started his career at Cannes, moved to Milan, and then Arsenal. After an impressive career at Arsenal, he moved to Juventus, then to Inter Milan after Juventus was relegated due to a scandal. He finally retired while at Manchester City.

Stats:

  • Date of Birth: June 23, 1976
  • Nationality: French-Senegalese
  • Teams Played for:
    • Bordeaux: 1998-2000
    • Nice: 2000-2004
    • Marseille: 2004-2006
    • Arsenal: 2006-2011
    • Inter Milan: 2011-2012
    • Juventus: 2012-2014
    • Manchester City: 2014-2016
  • Positions Played: Defensive Midfielder
  • Trophies Won:
    • Ligue 1: 1998-99, 2003-04
    • Serie A: 2011-12, 2012-13
    • Premier League: 2006-07, 2008-09, 2010-11
    • FA Cup: 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011
    • EFL Cup: 2006, 2008, 2010
    • UEFA Champions League: 2006-07, 2007-08, 2011-12
    • UEFA Europa League: 2009-10
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2006, 2007
    • FIFA Club World Cup: 2005, 2009, 2013
  • Other Significant Achievements:
    • FIFA World Cup: 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010
    • UEFA European Championship: 2008, 2012
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
    • Ligue 1 Team of the Year: 1998-99, 2003-04
    • Serie A Team of the Year: 2011-12, 2012-13
    • Premier League Team of the Year: 2006-07, 2008-09, 2010-11
Patrick Vieira F.C. Internazionale Milano.
Patrick Vieira F.C. Internazionale Milano.

Viera has had several wins in his career, including four FA Cups and three Premier League titles at Arsenal, with one winning unbeaten. While at Inter Milan, he won four league titles. He also won an FA Cup while at Manchester City.

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Playing for his country, France, Viera amassed 107 appearances before retiring from international soccer in 2010. He won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the Euro 2000 with the national team. He also appeared at the 2002 and 2006 World Cup and Euro 2004 and 2008, playing for France.

After he retired from the field, he took on coaching, starting with the Manchester City academy. He later moved to Major League Soccer to coach New York City FC. Subsequently, in 2018, he moved to France to coach Nice, a League 1 club. Then he managed Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

Patrick Vieira, The Giant [Skills & Goals]

Steve Bruce

Stephen Roger Bruce is described as the best English soccer player of the 1980s and 1990s to never play for England’s national team. However, Bruce had an impressive career at the club level and even more as a manager. Bruce started his career with an apprenticeship at Gillingham, where he appeared in more than 200 games.

Stats:

  • Date of Birth: December 31, 1960
  • Nationality: English
  • Teams Played for:
    • Gillingham: 1978-1984
    • Norwich City: 1984-1987
    • Manchester United: 1987-1996
    • Birmingham 1996-1998
    • Sheffield United 1998-1999
  • Positions Played: Centre-Back
  • Trophies Won:
    • FA Premier League: 1992-93, 1993-94
    • FA Cup: 1989-90, 1993-94
    • Football League Cup: 1991-92
  • Other Significant Achievements:
    • PFA Team of the Year: 1990-91, 1992-93
    • Premier League Manager of the Month: 2012, 2014, 2016, 2019
Steve Bruce behind as a coach and player Mikel Arteta
Steve Bruce behind as a coach and player Mikel Arteta

In 1984, he joined Norwich City and won the League Cup in 1985. Later, in 1987, he moved to Manchester United, where he won 12 titles, including three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

He was also the first player from England to captain a team to the double in the 20th century. As a manager, Bruce has led two teams’ promotions to the Premier League twice, Hull City and Birmingham City.

He has also managed Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic, Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Aston Villa, and New Castle United. His final match with New Castle also marked his 1000th match in club management.

Man Utd's Greatest Ever Defenders | Steve Bruce (1987 - 1996) 🟥⬜️⬛️⚽️

Claude Makelele

Claude Makelele was a defensive midfield pioneer, known for his tireless work rate and ability to break up play. The Frenchman played five seasons for Real Madrid, where he helped the club win two La Liga titles and the Champions League in 2002. His exceptional game reading and tactical discipline allowed the team’s attacking talents, such as Zidane and Figo, to flourish.

Stats:

  • Date of Birth: February 18, 1973
  • Nationality: French
  • Teams Played for:
    • Nantes: 1991-1997
    • Celta Vigo: 1997-1998
    • Real Madrid: 2000-2003
    • Chelsea: 2003-2008
    • Paris Saint-Germain: 2008-2011
  • Positions Played: Defensive Midfielder
  • Trophies Won:
    • La Liga: 2000-2001, 2002-2003
    • Ligue 1: 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, 2015-2016
    • Premier League: 2004-2005, 2005-2006
    • FA Cup: 2006-2007
    • Coupe de France: 2009-2010
  • Other Significant Achievements:
    • UEFA European Championship: 2000
    • FIFA World Cup: Runner-up 2006
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2003, 2004
    • Premier League Player of the Month: 2006
    • Chelsea Player of the Year: 2006

Makelele also played for Chelsea, helping the club win the Premier League title in 2004-05 and 2005-06. His selfless style in front of the back four, dubbed the “Makelele role,” had a large influence on modern soccer. After retirement, Makelele worked as a youth coach for PSG before taking over as manager of Belgian club Eupen.

Makelele, an underappreciated hero, was the anchor that allowed some of the greatest midfields in history to function. His unwavering energy and skill for recovering possession freed others to express themselves creatively. Makelele reinvented what a defensive midfielder should give with his tactical intelligence, positioning, and game reading.

He left a lasting impression on soccer by popularizing the deep-lying playmaker role, which is now vital in the majority of top teams. Makelele demonstrated how bringing simplicity, dedication, and a high work rate may result in success.

Claude Makelele from Manchester United vs Chelsea Cristiano Ronaldo Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney setting up for a free kick.
Claude Makelele from Manchester United vs Chelsea Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, and Wayne Rooney set up for a free-kick.

He is currently a youth coach and technical mentor at Chelsea. He played for Nantes, Marseille, Celta Vigo, Real Madrid, and Chelsea and retired at Paris Saint-Germain. He also featured in the team that reached the 2006 FIFA World Cup final and played for his country, France, in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, two UEFA European Championships, and the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Claude Makelele ᴴᴰ ● Ultimate Skills ●

Cesc Fàbregas

Francesc “Cesc” Fabregas Soler is a professional Spanish soccer player playing for Ligue 1 club Monaco as a central midfielder. Arsenal signed Fabregas in 2003 at the age of 16. He established himself in the 2004/05 season, winning the FA Cup in 2005.

Stats:

  • Date of Birth: May 4, 1987
  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Teams Played for:
    • CE Mataró: 1995-1997
    • FC Barcelona: 1997-2003
    • Arsenal: 2003-2011
    • Barcelona: 2011-2014
    • Chelsea: 2014-2019
    • Monaco: 2019-2022
  • Positions Played: Central Midfield, Attacking Midfield, Defensive Midfield
  • Trophies Won:
    • Premier League: 2014-15, 2016-17
    • La Liga: 2012-13
    • FA Cup: 2017-18
    • Copa del Rey: 2011-12, 2014-15
    • UEFA European Championship: 2008, 2012
  • Other Significant Achievements:
    • PFA Team of the Year: 2007-08
    • Premier League Player of the Month: January 2007, September 2007
    • Arsenal Player of the Season: 2006–07, 2009−10
    • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 2008, 2012
Cesc Fabregas 2009 05 10
Cesc Fabregas 2009 05 10

In 2011, he transferred to Barcelona, winning the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey, FIFA Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, and two Spanish Super Cups. In 2014, he moved to Chelsea and secured the League Cup.

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Fabregas represented his country in various tournaments, including the 2006 and 2010 UEFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2008, 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, Euro 2012, 2013 Confederations Cup, 2014 World Cup, and Euro 2016.

Cesc Fàbregas - "The Arsenal Years" (2003-2011)

He has been vital in his country’s wins of the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championship Cups.

Sami Hyypia

Sami Tuomas Hyypia is a former defender and soccer manager. He is a prominent figure in Finland, having been capped 105 times since his debut in the national team in 1992. He has also been named the Finnish Sports Journalists and Football Association Player of the Year several times.

Stats:

  • Date of Birth: October 7, 1973
  • Nationality: Finnish
  • Teams Played for:
    • Kumu
    • MyPa
    • Willem II
    • Liverpool
    • Bayer Leverkusen
  • Positions Played: Defender
  • Trophies Won:
    • UEFA Champions League: 2004-05
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2005
    • FA Cup: 2005-06
    • Football League Cup: 2002-03
  • Other Significant Achievements:
    • Finnish Footballer of the Year: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008
    • Premier League Player of the Month: November 2001
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2001, 2002

Hyypia started his career in Kumu before moving to MyPa, where he helped the club win the Finnish Cup in 1992 and 1995. In the same year, 1995, he moved to Willem II, where he became team captain and was crucial in their qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. In 1999, he moved to Liverpool, where he became captain and won the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and the FA Community Shield.

He retired from German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen in 2011 after joining them in 2009. After his retirement, he became manager for Bayer Leverkusen. He then moved to Brighton & Hove Albion in 2014, and lastly, he moved to a Swiss club, FC Zurich, from 2015 to 2016.

Sami Hyypiä - Highlights

Vincent Kompany

Vincent Kompany is widely considered one of the Premier League’s greatest center backs. The Belgian captained Manchester City to four Premier League titles over an 11-season stint with the club from 2008–2019. A towering presence at both ends of the pitch, Kompany scored some vital goals but was best known for his no-nonsense defending and leadership of the City backline.

Stats:

  • Date of Birth: April 10, 1986
  • Nationality: Belgian
  • Teams played for:
    • Anderlecht: 2003-2006, 2020-2022
    • Hamburger SV: 2006-2008
    • Manchester City: 2008-2019
  • Positions Played: Center-back, Defensive Midfielder
  • Trophies Won:
    • Premier League: 2011–12, 2013–14, 2017–18, 2018–19
    • FA Cup: 2010-11, 2018-19
    • EFL Cup: 2013-14, 2015-16, 2017-18, 2018-19
    • Community Shield: 2012, 2018
    • Belgian First Division A: 2003-04
  • Other Significant Achievements:
    • PFA Team of the Year: 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14
    • Premier League Player of the Season: 2011-12
    • Manchester City Player of the Year: 2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14, 2014-15
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2011, 2012, 2014

His thundering long-range strike against Leicester City in 2012 is remembered as one of the most important goals in the club’s history, helping end their 44-year wait for a top-flight title. Off the pitch, Kompany was regarded as a model professional and was named Manchester City captain in 2011, leading the club through their most successful era.

Since hanging up his boots after leaving City in 2019, Kompany has moved into management. He was appointed player-manager of Belgian club Anderlecht in 2019, looking to impart the knowledge gained under Pep Guardiola to develop young players in his home country. While results were mixed in his first managerial role, Kompany’s leadership and man-management skills drew praise as he aimed to blend youth with experience.

In 2022 he took up a new challenge in the English Championship as manager of Burnley, seeking to utilize his Premier League experience gained as a player to achieve promotion with the Clarets.

Vincent Kompany - Manchester City - Defensive Skills - 2018 HD

Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk is largely considered to be one of the best defenders of his time. Since joining Liverpool in 2018 for a then-world record sum for a defender, he has helped Jurgen Klopp’s team become English, European, and world champions.

Stats:

  • Date of Birth: July 8, 1991
  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Teams played for:
    • Willem II (2001-2004)
    • Groningen (2006-2010)
    • Celtic (2013-2015)
    • Southampton (2015-2018)
    • Liverpool (2018-present)
  • Positions Played: Center-back
  • Trophies Won:
    • UEFA Champions League: 2018-2019
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2019
    • FIFA Club World Cup: 2019
    • Premier League: 2019-2020
  • Other Significant Achievements:
    • PFA Players’ Player of the Year: 2018-2019
    • Premier League Player of the Season: 2018-2019
    • UEFA Defender of the Season: 2018-2019
NEW YORK - JULY 24, 2019: Center-back Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool FC (4) in action against Sporting CP in the 2019 Western Union Cup game at Yankees stadium in New York
New York – July 24, 2019: Center-Back Virgil Van Dijk of Liverpool Fc (4) in Action Against Sporting Cp in The 2019 Western Union Cup Game at Yankees Stadium in New York

The tall and dominating center-back has been a pillar in Liverpool’s defense, making important tackles and interceptions to hold opponents at bay. He has also scored important goals, including in crucial Champions League and Club World Cup finals.

Van Dijk was named Premier League Player of the Season as well as UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for the 2018-19 season, during which Liverpool won the Champions League. At international level, he was similarly instrumental in the Netherlands reaching the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League final.

Van Dijk is regarded as a model professional and leader off the field. With his dedication, attention, and calming influence on teammates, he was named Liverpool captain in 2019 after only 18 months at the club. Van Dijk, 30, is still in his prime, chasing major awards with club and country while securing his place among the Premier League greats of his time.

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Famous Players Destroyed By Virgil van Dijk

Fernando Hierro

For nearly 15 years, Fernando Hierro was a towering figure at the heart of Real Madrid’s and Spain’s defenses. From 1989 until 2003, he played almost 500 games for Real Madrid, winning five La Liga crowns and three Champions Leagues, among other accolades. Hierro, a tall and physically strong defender, was also technically skilled, able to bring the ball out of defense and initiate assaults.

Stats:

  • Date of Birth: March 23, 1968
  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Teams Played for:
    • Real Valladolid B: 1987-1989
    • Real Valladolid: 1989-1991
    • Real Madrid: 1989-2003
    • Al-Rayyan: 2003-2004
    • Bolton Wanderers: 2004-2005
  • Positions Played: Defender (Center-back)
  • Trophies Won:
    • La Liga: 5 times with Real Madrid
    • UEFA Champions League: 3 times with Real Madrid
    • Copa del Rey: 1 time with Real Madrid
  • Other Significant Achievements:
    • UEFA European Championship: 2 times (2008, 2012) as Spain national team player
    • FIFA World Cup: 1 time (2010) as Spain national team player

He led Real Madrid and Spain to victories, and as captain of the national team, he captured the Euro 2000 championship in Belgium and the Netherlands. Hierro spent nearly a decade as a coach and sporting director for Real Madrid and the Spanish national team after retiring in 2005, guiding La Roja to their first World Cup triumph in 2010.

Hierro, widely recognized as one of Spain’s finest ever defenders, demonstrated consistency, leadership, and a big-game mindset throughout his career. Before retiring in 2002, he held the record for most international appearances by a Spanish player with 88. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, his imposing presence at center-back helped establish Spain as one of Europe’s top national teams.

Hierro remained influential off the field as a coach and director after his playing days, playing a crucial role in Spain’s most successful era. His legend as one of the finest captains in Madrid and Spain remains on.

He appeared 90 times for his country and played in four World Cups and two European Championships. He started his managerial career in 2016 at Oviedo, and two years later, he was appointed the national team manager.

Fernando Hierro, El Mariscal [Goals & Skills]

Emmanuel Adebayor

Between 2006 and 2015, Emmanuel Adebayor had a prolific scoring record in the Premier League with Arsenal, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur. In the English Premier League, the strong striker scored 97 goals, including 24 in his debut season with Arsenal in 2006–07. Adebayor was a key member of Arsenal’s Champions League-winning team in 2006.

Stats:

  • Date of Birth: February 26, 1984
  • Nationality: Togolese
  • Teams Played for:
    • Metz: 2001-2003
    • Monaco: 2003-2006
    • Arsenal: 2006-2009
    • Manchester City: 2009–2012
    • Real Madrid: 2011 (loan)
    • Tottenham Hotspur: 2011-2015
    • Crystal Palace: 2016
    • İstanbul Başakşehir: 2017-2019
    • Kayserispor: 2019
    • Olimpia: 2020
    • Semassi: 2021-2023
  • Positions Played: Striker
  • Trophies Won:
    • African Footballer of the Year: 1 time
    • Footballer of the Year: 5 times
    • Spanish cup winner: 1 time

His career is also notable for a contentious transfer to Manchester City in 2009, which caused him to clash with Arsenal fans. Despite this, Adebayor continued to score routinely in England, as well as for Real Madrid and Crystal Palace. He represented Togo more over 100 times and helped them qualify for their first World Cup in 2006.

While Adebayor’s professional career had its ups and downs, he will be remembered as one of the Premier League’s most naturally gifted African strikers. His power, quickness, and accurate finishing skills enabled him to succeed in England’s top flight. Off the field, Adebayor is known for his charitable activities in Togo through his Emmanuel Adebayor Foundation.

Adebayor was one of the players affected when the Togo team’s bus was shot at while traveling to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, and he resigned from national team activity as a result. However, he rejoined the Togo squad for the 2013 African Cup of Nations in South Africa, where he helped them reach the quarter-finals. With 32 goals, he is Togo’s all-time leading scorer.

Emmanuel Adebayor Best Skills & Goals

This group of players indicates that the number 4 shirt has represented some of the greatest center backs. These defenders anchored club and national championship squads with their innate defensive abilities, leadership skills, and ability to start assaults from the back. Their performances in important international and continental tournaments defined periods and left legacies.

From Beckenbauer, who revolutionized the libero role, to Ramos, who plays both offensive and defense, these number 4s share enormous talents, trophy hauls, and big game performances. Future center backs will ideally choose their team number based on these legends.

Soccer Analyst and Publisher at Soccer Blade | Soccer Blade | + posts

Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.

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