Zayn Malik has quit One Direction after five years in the band, it has been confirmed this afternoon.
Malik last week fled the band's World tour while they were in Thailand, citing stress and exhaustion.
In a statement published on MailOnline
today, 22-year-old Malik - who has been under intense public scrutiny recently over everything from his changing appearance to allegations of drug use - said:
'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 a statement of their own, Zayn's four remaing One Direction band members - Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson - had this to 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."
Since forming on The X Factor in 2010, the five-piece have released four top-selling albums, conquered American and toured the world. Will they have the same magic as a four-piece or is this the beginning of the end?