Ronnie O’Sullivan believes only he and four other players in the history of snooker have the ability to thrive under pressure and win title after title.

The world No.6 has claimed five snooker World Championships since his maiden crowning glory in 2001, also adding 31 ranking event titles to a glittering record that has led many fans labelling him the greatest man to pick up a cue.

But his record at the Crucible is trumped by seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry, who dominated the sport throughout the 1990s as the Rocket was bursting onto the scene.

John Higgins sits one world title behind O’Sullivan on four, Mark Williams has won three and current world No.7 Mark Selby clinched a brilliant treble between 2014 and 2017.

And O’Sullivan reckons only he, Hendry, Higgins, Williams and Selby have that all-important ability to relish danger and strike fear into opponents.

“If you look at all the people who have won the World Championships since Stephen Hendry in the 1990s, there have been the odd one-time winner but if you look at people who have consistently won it - me, Selby, Higgins, Williams, Hendry - we’ve all been great pressure players,” the 44-year-old said.

“There are players there who are probably better than us technically, but are they really, when it comes to it, and have they really got the balls to do it?

“Selby was born with it, Hendry was born with it, Higgins was born with it, Williams was born with it - we love that point where it gets to the danger point.

“We go up a gear [at that point] and a lot of players don’t, and you can feel your opponent not wanting to be there and that gives you confidence.”

O’Sullivan heads into this year’s Betfred World Championship off the back of a mixed season on the circuit, losing to world No.1 Judd Trump in the final of the Northern Ireland Open and failing to progress past the semi-finals of a ranking event since.

But the world No.6 knows all about how to navigate his way around the Crucible, having secured five titles in Sheffield between 2001 and 2013.

He’s yet to get past the quarter-finals since 2014 but believes that innate winning mentality can serve him well at the end of this month.

“I think, in a single person sport - in a team sport you can get carried along - but in a single sport when you’re out there on your own, you have to know how to deal with pressure,” he added.

“A lot of people are okay up to a certain point but when it comes to the winning line and thinking ‘I can win this’ they miss a certain ball or they do something.

“You’re just kind of like, against certain opponents - the top four or five who have dominated World Championships over the years - they instinctively feed off that and they gain confidence from that.

“And that’s because they can play under that extreme - there are probably only four or five people in the game capable of doing that so really, a lot of the others are relying on those four or five not doing it over that period of time.”

Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship and qualifying from 21st July – 16th August.