Bonds to be honoured

West Ham United legend Billy Bonds MBE is to be honoured as the recipient of the club's first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bonds is without doubt one of the finest players to pull on a Hammers shirt, making a club-record 793 first-team appearances between 1967 and 1988 and lifting the FA Cup twice, in 1975 and 1980.

An outstanding all-round player, Bonds began his career as a right-back before settling into a deep-lying midfield role, where his tackling, passing and leadership skills came to the fore.

The 66-year-old will be presented with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the fifth annual Player Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London's Park Lane on Wednesday 8 May 2013.

An inspirational figure, Bonds was born in Woolwich in September 1946, joining Charlton Athletic as a teenager. He made his first-team debut for the Addicks at 18, going on to make 95 senior appearances before crossing the River Thames for £50,000 in May 1967.

Despite being just 20, Bonds immediately established himself as a first-team regular in Ron Greenwood's side, making 42 appearances in his maiden season at the Boleyn Ground.

A player of great strength of mind and body, he would make more than 40 appearances in each of his first eight seasons in east London, capping that run by captaining West Ham to a 2-0 FA Cup final victory over Fulham at Wembley in May 1975.

Amazingly for a player filling a predominantly defensive role, Bonds topped the club's goalscoring charts in 1973/74, netting 13 goals in 44 games, including a memorable hat-trick in a home Division One victory over Chelsea in March 1974.

Bonds' versatility and selfless team ethic were illustrated again when manager Greenwood moved him to a new position at centre-half in 1977 - the same year the one-time Under-23 international was named on the substitutes' bench for England's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Italy.

The fitness and durability that served Bonds so well during his career enabled him to continue playing week-in, week-out well into his thirties. Indeed, he was approaching his 34th birthday when he lifted the FA Cup for a second time in May 1980 following West Ham's 1-0 win over Arsenal at Wembley.

Billy Bonds

Billy Bonds MBE lifted the FA Cup twice for West Ham United

By then, the Hammers had been relegated, but Bonds showed great loyalty to the cause, playing an amazing 59 games as West Ham won the Division Two title and reached the League Cup final in 1981.

Bonds passed Bobby Moore OBE's all-time appearance record in September 1982, playing his 545th first-team match for the club in a 1-1 Division One draw at the Boleyn Ground.

The Hammers great initially retired in May 1984, handing the captain's armband to Alvin Martin, but a spate of injuries saw him return to the squad in August of the same year.

After missing the 1985/86 season through injury, Bonds returned to first-team duty in October 1986, marking his comeback in memorable fashion by being voted Hammer of the Year for the fourth and final time in 1987 - adding to previous awards won in 1971, 1974 and 1975.

The 1987/88 season, during which Bonds celebrated his 41st birthday, proved to be his last, with the legend making his final appearance for West Ham in a Division One fixture at Southampton on 30 April 1988 - more than 20 years after his debut in a home match against Sheffield Wednesday. The same month, he had been presented with the PFA Merit Award by his fellow professionals in recognition of a truly remarkable playing career.

Four months before hanging up his boots, Bonds had received another honour, being made an MBE for his services to football in HM The Queen's New Year's Honours List.

To nobody's surprise, Bonds was handed a coaching role on his retirement by manager John Lyall, working alongside Tony Carr with the club's promising Academy youngsters.

In February 1990, he was appointed as first-team boss himself, leading the club to promotion from Division Two in 1991. After being relegated in 1992, Bonds led West Ham to promotion for a second time in 1993, when they reached the Premier League for the first time.

After leaving the Boleyn Ground in 1994, Bonds returned to his native south east London to manage Millwall for a period. Since then, he has worked as a radio summariser and appeared at a series of theatre shows, where he has shared stories from his amazing career with supporters.

A true West Ham legend, Billy Bonds MBE will be rightly honoured for his truly outstanding contribution to Hammers history when he receives the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Player Awards in May.