Zayn Malik has quit One Direction.
The 22-year-old singer – who left the group’s world tour last week due to stress – has announced he is leaving the band to live a “normal” life out of the spotlight.
In a statement posted on the group’s official Facebook page, Malik announced his departure from the group. “My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined,” he wrote. “But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologize to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart.”
“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,” he added. “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.”
One Direction, who are currently on a world tour, have sold more than 50 million records and had 91 number one hits globally.
The remaining members of the group – Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Harry Styles – will continue as a four-piece and have reassured fans that their world tour and recording of their fifth album will still go ahead.
The Facebook post also contained statements from One Direction and Simon Cowell, who put the group together in 2010 during their season on the UK show X-Factor. Malik’s former group plan to continue recording, with the remaining members promising fans a new album. “We’re really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future,” the group wrote. “The past five years have been beyond amazing, we’ve gone through so much together, so we will always be friends.” Cowell thanked Malik for his contributions to the group.