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The main purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of highly influential players in elite soccer. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 elite coaches to determine their perceptions of the characteristics, emergence, and impact of highly influential players. The interview guide was anchored in coaching literature and leadership theory, and after the interview data in this frame were explored, these athletes were labeled cultural architects. The results of the analysis revealed 3 general dimensions of cultural architects in elite teams: (a) personal characteristics, which include elements related to their achievements on the soccer pitch, mind-set, and collective orientation; (b) relationship to the coach, which includes integrity and trust; and (c) intrateam facilitator, which includes their impact as a task-team and social-team influencer. The results represent original findings identifying the characteristics of cultural architects in soccer that are most likely transferable to many other team sports.
Danielsen is with the Dept. of Sport Science, Nord University, Bodø, Norway. Giske is with the Dept. of Education and Sport Science, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway. Peters is with the School of Allied Health & Community, University of Worcester, Worcester, United Kingdom. Høigaard is with the Dept. of Sport Science and Physical Education, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway.