Zayn Malik has quit One Direction after five years.
The 22-year-old singer has made the decision to leave the boyband, leaving Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson to continue as a four-piece.
The Bradford-born singer said: ‘My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologise to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right.”
He continued: “I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22 year old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.”
Despite Zayn’s departure, One Direction will continue their world tour as a four piece and record a fifth album later this year.
Simon Cowell, who discovered the boyband on talent show The X Factor, said: “I would like to say thank you to Zayn for everything he has done for One Direction.
“Since I first met Zayn in 2010, I have grown very, very fond – and immensely proud – of him. I have seen him grow in confidence and I am truly sorry to see him leave.
“As for One Direction, fans can rest assured that Niall, Liam, Harry and Louis are hugely excited about the future of the band.”
One Direction signed with Simon Cowell’s record label Syco Records in 2010 after finishing third on The X Factor.