Zayn said in a statement shared on Facebook: "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."
Zayn was recently signed off from the series of concert commitments he had by a doctor. However it’s unclear exactly why he took a break from the job.
The remainder of One Direction said in a statement: "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."
1D’s manager – and boss of the show in which they found fame - added his feelings about Zayn’s leaving but reassured fans that the act would go on.
"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,” Simon Cowell said. “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."