One Direction are taking a new direction as a four-piece as it's announced Zayn Malik has quit the band.
There has been plenty of speculation Zayn was set to go it alone, and he was recently absent from tour commitments after being signed off due to stress.
In a statement released on the band's Facebook page, Zayn said that after five years with the group, who were formed on 2010’s series of The X Factor, now is “the right time” to leave.
The rest of the band – Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson will continue as a four-piece with their fifth album on the way later this year, as well as their world tour commitments.
"My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined,” Zayn said. “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."
Responding to his decision One Direction said: "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."
Music mogul Simon Cowell, who has been behind the band since day one 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."