John Bond was simply one of the finest right-backs ever to pull on a West Ham United shirt.

Bond, who passed away this week at the age of 79, made 444 first-team appearances during a 14-year career with the Hammers, winning the Division Two title in 1958 and FA Cup in 1964. A defender blessed with outstanding technique, Bond scored 37 goals for the club before embarking on a successful career in management.

Joint-Chairman David Sullivan paid his own personal tribute to Bond, saying: "It's terribly sad news to hear of John Bond's passing. John was a fabulous player for West Ham United and one of the most loyal servants the club has ever had. He is in the elite group of players to have played over 400 times for West Ham and for that he will always hold a special place in supporters' hearts. I have fond memories of going to watch the 1964 FA Cup final with my Dad, which of course he played a big part in helping us win. All of us at West Ham United are thinking of John's family at this difficult time."

His former team-mates and friends have shared their memories of the man affectionately nicknamed 'Muffin' for his ability to kick the ball 'like a mule'.

Peter Brabrook played on the right wing in front of Bond for eight seasons and was a close friend of both the right-back and his family: "It is very sad news. We were the best of friends. We were more friendly than anybody in the 1964 FA Cup-winning side to be honest. John's wife Jan and my wife Doreen were very close and we used to go around to their house and still kept in touch with each other. They are a lovely family and John was a really nice guy. 

"John liked to have a laugh but when the football came along he was very, very serious. He was also a good coach and manager. John always spoke his mind and said what he felt and sometimes that didn't go down too well with [manager] Ron Greenwood, but that was the way he was. He had to earn his place in the side and he did that because he was the best right-back the club has ever had, without a shadow of a doubt.

"I played in front of John as a right winger and we played together for eight years and I also played against him when I was at Chelsea and had some fantastic times together. He was a character and when he was out he was really funny to be around.

"He got a few goals and was a good footballing right-back. He liked to play and had a fantastic shot on him. His striking of the ball was first-class, as was his technique. He was a really, really good player. He was 6'2 tall but really good on the ball, which is hard for someone so tall.

"He also had a great understanding of the game and was forward-thinking. We would spend hours and hours all morning and afternoon talking about football and he loved it, as you could see from the success he had coaching and managing, which he did very well. John will be sorely missed."

1958 promotion team

West Ham United line up in the mid-1960s

Ronnie Boyce lined up alongside Bond in the 1964 FA Cup final at Wembley, scoring the winning goal as West Ham beat Preston North End to lift the trophy for the first time in the club's history: "John was a top man and a top player and a good manager too. When I first started at West Ham John would help me no end with a little word of advice here and there. His experience was second to none and I enjoyed sitting and listening to him and I learned so much.

"John was a delightful guy and a good family man with a lovely wife. His finest moments at West Ham would have been being part of the side that won promotion to Division One and winning the FA Cup. It was fitting that he should win one of the major trophies.

"I remember that his striking of the ball was unbelievable. One day early in my time at West Ham I went to watch an 'A' team match at Clacton and John struck a volley that hit the crossbar so hard that I expect it is still rattling today! Ernie Gregory used to say that his backpasses were so hard that John used to put him under pressure! He did have an outstanding range of passing.

"His greatest attributes were that he never looked under pressure and always looked comfortable on the ball. He also had a great shot and scored many memorable goals. It is so sad that he has passed away."

1958 promotion team

The 1957/58 Division Two champions

Ken Brown played alongside Bond at centre-half throughout his 14 seasons at the club, winning promotion in 1958 and the FA Cup in 1964. He later served as Bond's assistant manager during successful spells in charge at AFC Bournemouth and Norwich City during the 1970s: "I will miss the old guy a hell of a lot as he was a great friend. It is funny because we played together for West Ham - he as a right-back and me as a centre-half - for a number of years, but weren't close pals during that time. He tended to be with one group of players and I was with another.

"But after I followed him to Torquay United and we became great mates. We were both still living in London and travelling to and from playing for Torquay, so we spent a lot of time together and that is where our friendship - which lasted until John's passing - was formed. Then of course we went into partnership together on the managerial and coaching side. When John went to Bournemouth, he asked me to be his assistant manager in 1970.

"John then went to Norwich three years later and I followed him there to be his assistant. I was his side-kick if you like! But it was a partnership of friendship as well as the football side. In our managerial roles, we then travelled even more, going to games of teams we were playing next, so again, a lot of time spent together and doing what we loved.

"When John went to Manchester City to be their manager in 1980, he said maybe it was time our partnership ended. not as friends, but as manager and assistant manager. It was just time really. He went off to Manchester City and I then persuaded the then chairman of Norwich City to let me take the manager's role at the club, which he did.

"John was a great character. He said what he thought and, at times, he riled people. But he was honest and felt he had to say what he felt had to be said, you always knew where you were with him. We grew up at West Ham under Ted Fenton who was a straight up manager. But then we had Ron Greenwood and he was not only a manager but also a coach. I know John learnt  a lot from Ron, as we all did, and I think we definitely took that into our manager and coaching roles.

"John wasn't afraid to speak up to Ron when he was left out of the team though, to ask him why. But he had respect and knew, as we all did, that we had to earn our place in the team every week.

"As a player, he was strong and I loved playing alongside him - but my memories are not just of a great team-mate but as a special friend. We all knew he had been ill for a while - I checked in on him to see how he was doing, so it is very sad that he has now gone, I will miss him."

1960s legends

The 1960s legends line up at the Boleyn Ground in November 2010

Tim Crane is the editor of EX, the magazine that focuses on former West Ham players and staff, and has been in regular contact with Bond and his family in recent years: "Everybody loved John Bond. Last season, the club invited John, Ron Boyce, Ken Brown, Eddie Bovington and Brian Dear for a tribute to Ron Greenwood and John got on the stage and he was gushing about Ron. He was a huge fan of Ron, who had a huge influence on John as a  player, as a coach and as a manager.

"John was a big personality and he always used to tell me some wonderful colourful stories. He had time for everyone. We had a dinner for the players from the 1960s FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup-winning sides at the Britannia Hotel in Docklands. The players were the last people standing and they spent all night signing memorabilia, posing for photographs and telling stories until the sun came up. John was about giving, giving, giving. He was warm and friendly and generous.

"John made a fantastic contribution at West Ham and was one of the best right-backs the club has ever produced. He was called 'Muffin' because of his huge kick like Muffin the Mule. Anybody you speak to about John would only have glowing things to say about him.

"I have kept in touch with John and I spoke to him a few months ago on the phone when Harry Redknapp was being linked with the England job. John's son Kevin has been Harry's long-time assistant and I suggested it would be wonderful for his son to be involved with England. He replied 'Wouldn't that be exciting!'. I then mentioned his old club Manchester City, who he managed and Kevin played for, and talked about how Kevin would have difficulty getting into the side nowadays. John said: 'Not if I was manager. He'd be the first name on the sheet'. That was John. Loyal and warm. A huge, proper West Ham legend has passed away."

Ken Dyer has covered West Ham United for the Evening Standard for more than 30 years and is a lifelong Hammers supporter: "A friend of mine has just called to tell me of the passing of John Bond. 'Muffin', as he was universally known by Hammers fans of that time, was his first boyhood football hero and, as my mate said: 'He had the low-cut boots, the shortest shorts, in fact, as they say these days, he was 'too cool for school.'' I remember John as a tall, elegant full-back with a shot like a mule, hence his nickname. He had a particular adversity to speedy little wingers and when he tackled them - they stayed tackled. I can still see him dancing around Wembley after the 1964 FA Cup final, grinning from ear to ear. My thoughts are with his family at this time."

Kris Slaven worked for West Ham United as the club's former player liaison officer and arranged for John Bond to return to the Boleyn Ground as a guest on many occasions: "In my role at the club I had the great pleasure of meeting John and speaking to him on the phone many times and he was always a real gentleman. He had never lost the rapport he had with fans and even at the Ron Greenwood tribute evening I arranged at the Bristol City match last season, after all the years since he had played, people absolutely loved seeing him and listening to his stories. He was always very chirpy and had such a presence that you knew you were in the company of a legend."