Zayn Malik has quit One Direction, leaving Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson to continue as a four-piece.
After rumours began circulating earlier this month, the band have confirmed the news today in an official statement.
Malik 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 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.”
In the official statement, the rest of the group 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.”
Simon Cowell, who brought the band together on The X Factor, also commented: “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.”
The news comes a week after Malik was signed off from 1D’s world tour with stress.
One Direction’s On The Road Again tour 2015 lands in the UK in September, making it the first time the group will play over here as a four-piece.
Expect to see little else on the Internet until then. Gulp.