Two former team-mates of the great Billy Bonds MBE have praised West Ham United's first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
Former Hammers striker Alan Taylor and winger Alan Devonshire lined-up alongside Bonds hundreds of times in claret and blue, starring as the captain lifted the FA Cup in 1975 and 1980 respectively.
Speaking exclusively to West Ham TV, Taylor and Devonshire said the Club had made the right decision in honouring the four-times Hammer of the Year at the recent 2013 Player Awards at London's Grosvenor House Hotel.
"I can always remember when I first came to the Club and I was just 21 and Billy took me under his wing, if you like," recalled Taylor, who was just 21 when his two goals carried West Ham to FA Cup glory against Fulham at Wembley in 1975.
"You couldn't get a better professional. He was so dedicated and he was a great bloke as well. He was a leader. Billy always used to gee you up and, if things weren't going right for you, you could always rely on Billy coming up and having a quiet word with you. His experience was a great help to me when I first came to the Club.
Billy Bonds raises Alan Taylor aloft during the 1975 FA Cup final
"Before the 1975 FA Cup final, because of what I had done in the previous couple of games [scoring twice in the quarter-final and semi-final victories], he was always behind me and talking to me and supporting me.
"I played mainly down that [right-hand] side and BIlly was behind me and, believe me, when you had him there he was always encouraging you, telling you to take players on and talking to you throughout the game."
Taylor said he was not surprised that Bonds was still playing for West Ham and winning Hammer of the Year awards past his 40th birthday, such was his dedication and work ethic.
"You couldn't ask for a better professional or a nicer guy. Billy was always strong in the tackle. He would always be a ball-winner for us in the middle of the park and, best of all, he was a leader.
"It is all credit to Billy [that he played forWest Ham for so long] because he was dedicated to the Club and he was part of the history and will always be remembered."
Alan Devonshire (front row, third from left) won the FA Cup in 1980
Devonshire, whose cross led to Trevor Brooking's winner in the 1980 FA Cup final victory over Arsenal, echoed Taylor's sentiments about the man who made 794 appearances for West Ham over 21 glorious years.
Even if Bonds did leave a few bruises on Devonshire during training, the winger was grateful for the protection he was afforded by the great man on a Saturday afternoon.
"Billy gave 110 per cent in every game he played," said the Braintree Town manager. "I first got into the side and played on the right-hand side of midfield and Billy played at right-back, and it was like having your Dad look after you.
"If someone whacked me, he would go to their player and say 'Don't do that again, or else I'll kick you!'. It was like having my Dad out there because he looked after me.
"He was just as committed in training every day. He always used to pick me to kick! Every day we trained we had a battle - he was that committed."