Zayn Malik has confirmed he will be the first member to leave One Direction after five years with the band. In a statement posted on the group's official Facebook page, Malik announced his departure from the group. The decision by Malik to quit came after he dropped out of an Asian tour due to what he said was stress.
Zayn says: "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 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. 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 say: "We're really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future. The past five years have been beyond amazing, we've gone through so much together, so we will always be friends. The four of us will now continue. We're looking forward to recording the new album and seeing all the fans on the next stage of the world tour."
Simon Cowell says: "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."
News of Malik’s departure spread quickly across the Internet, with fans tweeting their sorrow accompanied by hashtags #zayngate, #AlwaysInOurHeartsZaynMalik and #byezayn.
The band says it will continue to record as a foursome and release a fifth album this year.