In news sure to break millions of hearts around the world, Zayn Malik has officially announced his departure from One Direction.
Rumours have swirled all week about whether the 22-year-old would stay in the group, after he left their current tour last Thursday due to stress amidst speculation that he was cheating on fiancee Perrie Edwards.
In the official statement, released at 3:30am AEDT via One Direction’s Facebook, Zayn explained that he is 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”.
“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,” the singer said.
The group will keep going as a four-piece and continue the current On The Road Again world tour without Zayn.
Since forming in 2010 through the UK X Factor, One Direction has seen incredible success, with four albums released and a fifth planned for recording later this year.
Even back then sailing wasn’t always smooth for Zayn, who almost quit the group during bootcamp.