Between 1967 and 1979, Bonev played for the Bulgarian national team 96 times, scoring a record 47 goals. He played for his country at the 1970 and 1974 World Cups. Most of Bonev's club career was spent with Lokomotiv Plovdiv, but he also played for CSKA Sofia and AEK Athens FC and later briefly came out of retirement to play for Oxford United in 1982, before an injury to his thigh muscle ended his playing career.
After his retirement he became a manager and he went to Greece and became trainer of Panathinaikos FC, AEL 1964, Ionikos. After Greece, he became manager of the Cypriot team APOEL FC in 1995 and until 1996 when he quit from his team, he won the Cup in his first year in Cyprus in 1995 and the Double the following season.
He went back to his country to become manager of Lokomotiv Sofia and then he coached his country's national team for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. However he resigned after the elimination of Bulgaria from the First Round of World Cup after his team collected only one point in the groups.