SHOCK AND HORROR FOR 1D FANS AS ZAYN WALKS AWAY
The hearts of teenagers across the world were breaking last night when news broke that Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction.
Zayn revealed that he is quitting the international chart-topping boy band so that he can "be a normal 22-year-old."
In a statement, Malik's bandmates said they were sad to see him go "but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future".
Malik, who quit the band's world tour last week citing stress, said in the statement that his time 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.
"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," he added.
One Direction, who are currently touring with their fourth album said they would continue with the four remaining members and would record a new album later this year.
Malik's departure from the tour came after he hit back at rumours of trouble in his relationship with fiancee Perrie Edwards of the band Little Mix.
Although rumours had swirled that Malik was unhappy in the band, X Factor judge Louis Walsh revealed that he wasn't surprised at the news.
"No, I knew it was on the cards, I knew there were problems. I knew he couldn't take the pressure," Louis said.
"He had day-to-day pressure, since they were on XFactor they haven't stopped working.
"They were either making the record, promoting it or on tour plus it was world wide, they were going to one from continent from another.
"It just gets to them, living in hotels rooms, girls screaming at them - it sounds amazing but it's stressful," he added. Despite Zayn's decision to leave the world's biggest boyand, Louis is convinced they can continue.
"The Spice Girls had it when Geri Halliwell left. Take That had it when Robbie left. Westlife had it when Brian left. They all still continued," he said.
"And One Direction will continue now that Zayn Malik has left One Direction. They will go on. The tour will go on.
"They'll probably have to work harder but they'll probably gel better as a result - I think they can continue," he added.
The next scheduled date on One Direction's On the Road Again tour is in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Saturday.
One Direction formed in 2010 after five teenagers - Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik - auditioned individually for the British TV talent show, The XFactor.
Simon Cowell had the idea of putting them together as a boy band. They didn't win the competition, but they went on to top charts and win young hearts around the world with their cheeky personalities and perky pop songs.
Cowell said he had grown "very, very fond - and immensely proud" of Malik over the years.
"As for One Direction, fans can rest assured that Niall, Liam, Harry and Louis are hugely excited about the future of the band," he said.