Zayn Malik has decided to part ways with One Direction.
After leaving the band's On The Road Again Tour due to "stress," Zayn announced his departure will be permanent. In a statement posted to One Direction's Facebook page on Wednesday (March 25), Malik said he wants 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," he said in the statement. "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 will continue as a four-member band and will be recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year.
The remaining members of One Direction -- Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan -- added a message for Malik:
"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 discovered the group on "X Factor U.K." and heads 1D's label, SyCo also extended gratitude to the departing singer: "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."