Zayn Malik quits One Direction: ‘now is the right time for me to leave the band’

Band member leaves after five years in group

Zayn Malik has quit One Direction, becoming the first member to leave the group.

Rumours about Malik’s future in the band were abound after he recently pulled out of the group’s Asian tour (March 19) so he could fly back to the UK to be with his family after pictures emerged of him with a mystery girl in Thailand. Malik is currently engaged to Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards.

A statement issued by the band confirming Malik’s departure confirms that the group will continue without him. “After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction,” the statement reads. “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.”

Malik himself adds: “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.”

Similarly, in a more personal message than the official statement, 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.”

Malik’s bandmate Liam Payne recently angered fans by covering up a photo of the exiled singer. Following Malik’s departure, Payne was pictured on the band’s tour in Asia holding up a poster of the band with fans. Payne later wrote on Twitter: “#makinglightofasituation sorry for the laughs guys”.

Meanwhile, Zayn Malik’s sister has asked fans to “pray for my brother”.