When squad numbers were introduced in England in 1993-94, there was only one candidate for the Leeds United number 4 shirt.
While David Batty had worn number 8 in the 1989-90 promotion campaign, the arrival of Gary McAllister in 1990 saw the Scot wear number 10 in midfield with Batty switching to 4, previously worn by Vinnie Jones. For the next three seasons, it was the only shirt he wore as a starter and so he was an automatic choice when the move away from 1-11 came.
However, Batty was less than happy with how things were going under Howard Wilkinson and so when a transfer offer came in from Blackburn Rovers in October of 1993, he made the move to Ewood Park – incidentally, his last game was a 3-3 draw with Blackburn.
Tim Sherwood was the Blackburn number 4 and so Batty wore the number 23 shirt there – upon joining Newcastle United in 1995-96, he initially wore 22 before switching to 4 for 1996-97. When he rejoined Leeds in 1998-99, Alf-Inge Håland had 4 and so Batty again donned number 23.
Back to 1993-94 and Batty’s move created a vacancy that was filled in December as fittingly-named winger David White arrived from Manchester City in a swap deal that saw David Rocastle going to Maine Road.
White had worn 7 for City ever since the 1988-89 season but that was obviously still the property of Gordon Strachan at Leeds and so, rather than simply taking Rocastle’s shirt – the former Arsenal man did take 7 at City – White opted for the lowest available.
As things transpired, though, White would only hold number 4 for the remainder of the season and he switched for 1994-95, moving to the number 14 that had been vacted by Steve Hodge.
The new number 4 was Carlton Palmer, who had also had that shirt at his previous club Sheffield Wednesday.
Palmer would hold the number for three years, with Håland having it from 1997-2000. Since then, it has been worn by Olivier Dacourt (2000-03), Jody Morris (2003-04), Clarke Carlisle (2004-05), Jonathan Douglas (2006-09), Michael Doyle (2009-10), Alex Bruce (2010-12), Tom Lees (2012-14), Rodolph Austin (2014-15), Scott Wootton (2015-16), Toumani Diagouraga (2016-17) and current incumbent Adam Forshaw, whose four years since January 2018 make him the longest-serving Leeds number 4 in the squad-numbers era.