Zayn Malik quits One Direction.
Zayn Malik quits One Direction  Ian Wes—PA Wire/Press Association Images

Zayn Malik Leaves One Direction

Mar 25, 2015

Zayn Malik, one-fifth of the massively popular boy band One Direction, has left the group.

One Direction announced his departure on Facebook not long after Malik departed from their world tour because of "stress."

"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," Malik said in the statement. "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 band says it will continue to record as a foursome and release a fifth album this year.

Sign up for THE BRIEF and more. View Sample

The band's full statement, from their Facebook:

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."

Read next: Why Zayn Malik Has the Makings of a Great Solo Star

See One Direction Throughout the Years

BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards - Show
Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Zain Malik of One Direction perform at the BBC Teen Awards at Wembley arena in London, England in 2011.Dave Hogan—Getty Images
BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards - Show
BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards - Show
BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards - Show
BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards - Show
Nickelodeon's 25th Annual Kids' Choice Awards - Roaming Audience
One Direction Perform in London
One Direction Portrait Session In Sydney
One Direction Performs On NBC's "Today"
Z100's Jingle Ball 2012 Presented By Aeropostale - Show
2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Show
2013 American Music Awards - Roaming Show
One Direction in Buenos Aires
One Direction "Where We Are" Tour - New Jersey
One Direction "Where We Are" Tour - New Jersey
One Direction: The TV Special - Season 2014
2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Night 2 - Show
2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Night 2 - Show
2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Night 2 - Show
One Direction Celebrate The Release Of Album "Four" On NBC Today Show
Saturday Night Live - Season 40
Saturday Night Live - Season 40
Saturday Night Live - Season 40
Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Zain Malik of One Direction perform at the BBC Teen Awards at
... VIEW MORE

Dave Hogan—Getty Images
1 of 22

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.