Anthony Wordsworth’s AFC Wimbledon team-mates call him ‘John Stones’ – but the nickname has nothing to do with his defensive prowess.
Instead the winger uses spiritual stones, which he charges with the sun and the moon and carries with him everywhere, to bring positive energy.
Wordsworth lost his brother Steven a year ago to a heart attack at the age of 40, which left him devastated and struggling to keep his career on track.
Now the stones have become something of a ritual at Kingsmeadow and will be placed on Wordsworth’s spot in the dressing room during Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-round meeting with Millwall.
The 30-year-old, who has played in every match of Wimbledon’s cup run, including the fourth-round win over West Ham, revealed: “It’s just something I got into a little while ago, just for some good energy.
“My brother passed away and I was going through a bit of a difficult time.
“It affected me massively, massively. Initially, I couldn’t talk about it, I didn’t have any time off. I was at Southend at the time.
“I didn’t speak about it with the manager. I didn’t want to talk about it. I kept it all bottled up. It was affecting my performances.
“One of my friends who was really into it told me ‘try going to a crystal healer. Have a chat with her, see what it’s like’.
“So I thought I would give it a go. It could be coincidence, could be a load of rubbish, but if I have got them on me I just feel a lot better.
“Now the boys are at me to get them out when they’re cheering on horses. ‘Get your stones out!’. I’m like ‘that’s not what they’re for, they’re not going to help you win a bet’.
“Mitch Pinnock and Tom King started calling me John Stones and it stuck. Every morning, ‘Stonesy’! I wish I could pass the ball like him.
“But all of the boys are a bit curious. I bring them out on the pitch before games and the lads have been putting them in the goalmouth hoping they’ll help us score more goals – but obviously that hasn’t been working!”
While Wordsworth puts his stones in place, midfielder Scott Wagstaff will run out with his beard dyed blue and yellow following a pledge he made if the Dons beat West Ham.
Manager Wally Downes has yet to be convinced, however.
“We’ve got the beard and the lucky stones have we? Terrific. I won’t have to worry about any set-pieces or formations,” he said.