Zayn Malik Quits One Direction

"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," says the singer

Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik and Niall Horan of One Direction. Malik quit the boy band after five years. Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Zayn Malik has quit One Direction following five years with the boy band.

In a statement posted on the group's official Facebook page, Malik announced his departure from the group. "My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined," he wrote. "But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I'd like to apologize 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," he added. "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."

The Facebook post also contained statements from One Direction and Simon Cowell, who put the group together in 2010 during their season on the UK show X-Factor. Malik's former group plan to continue recording, with the remaining members promising fans a new album. "We're really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future," the group wrote. "The past five years have been beyond amazing, we've gone through so much together, so we will always be friends." Cowell thanked Malik for his contributions to the group.

The news follows Malik's recent exit from the band's current world tour, where he cited "stress" as the reason for his leave. Last year, the singer had co-written songs with UK artist Naughty Boy, including "One Chance to Dance" which One Direction had planned to record.

The boy band's current tour, following the release of last fall's Four, will continue through October.

One Direction's full statement on the departure of Zayn Malik 

After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction. Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis will continue as a four-piece and look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year.

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."